Kings County's jail is bulging at the seams

FRESNO, Calif.

AB-109 went into effect October first. The program was designed to eliminate overcrowding and cut costs by sending people to local jails-instead of prisons.

Tuesday-Kings County Sheriff Dave Robinson addressed the Hanford City Council, and told them, since October first, the jail has taken in 84 inmates from the state, forcing him to release other inmates early.

"You know, you just can't keep up with the number of inmates living in the size of the facility."

Kings County Sheriff Dave Robinson didn't hold back Tuesday. Addressing the Hanford City Council, he expressed concern about early releases. The jail is designed to hold 361 inmates. Tuesday morning, there were 430.

David Robinson said, "As of December 15th, we had released 31 inmates for the entire year. I think we'll eclipse that 31 over the next 10 to 15 days at the numbers we're seeing now."

Our last visit to the jail was on November first; just one month after AB-109 took effect. Back then, bunk beds had been added to pods. And two person cells were converted to fit three inmates. Now, additional bunks have been brought in. And mattresses take up floor space in common areas.

"So we're just going to be overcrowded over the next couple of years and hopefully we can get money top built out our facility to take on more inmates."

With AB-109, Sheriff Robinson expects the jail population to double in size within the next three to four years. The county has applied for 33 million dollars in funding from the state, but is asking city leaders to vouch for them by lobbying state corrections officials.

In the meantime, Sheriff Robinson says his department will do its best by using rehabilitation programs and gps monitoring to keep watch over certain inmates who have been released. Still, he fears it's a plan which may have a negative impact on the community.

"The general consensus is they're going to be out on the streets somewhere, and if they haven't been through some type of rehabilitation program and they haven't been rehabilitated, they'll probably go to be committing more crimes."

Sheriff Robinson says he will know in March whether Kings County will receive the money to build a new jail. He says they have been successful in hiring four new deputies to monitor the extra inmates. But, he's hoping to hire four more.

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