Kings County Jail officials make room for prison inmates

KINGS COUNTY, Calif.

Before the state's prison realignment program, the capacity at the Kings County jail stood at 361 inmates. But Tuesday, the jail can hold a maximum of 487, an increase of 126 inmates.

The Kings County Jail has undergone some major changes. And while it's not at capacity, the state's realignment program has taken a toll on inmates, and the deputies who work there.

The inside of the Kings County Jail looks much different these days. Bunk beds take up space in common pod areas. Two female wings have been combined into one. And cells, which used to house two inmates, now have three people inside.

Sgt. Dan Tolbert said, "This cell was mainly for two people, and then with the additional people we're getting in, we had to start using the floor as another bed."

Karen Beemus, an inmate, said, "We don't get the attention that we need. We don't. It's not fair."

During the month of October, the Kings County jail took in 49 prison inmates. Initially, they planned on receiving 12. It's all part of AB-109, California's realignment program. The program was designed to eliminate prison overcrowding and cut the budget deficit.

Sheriff Dave Robinson said, "It wasn't clearly made out to at least myself, so we weren't necessarily ready for the impact that the parole violators were gonna have."

Kings County sheriff, Dave Robinson says he needs eight more deputies to monitor the added inmates. But, until those hires go through.

Sheriff Robinson said, "We've had to increase staffing through the utilization of reserve deputy sheriffs and also overtime."

We checked with other Valley jails. Both Merced and Tulare County officials they're on pace with what was projected. Fresno County, on the other hand, is facing the same challenges as Kings County, more inmates than expected.

Sheriff Robinson said, "You know, it's going to be another uncomfortable experience for an inmate, but in the end, it's safer for our community."

In addition to making room for more inmates, the Kings County Sheriff says, he also wants to add resources to rehabilitation programs so the inmates who are released do not come back.

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