Sheriff Margaret Mims hopes for more funds

FRESNO, Calif.

/*Sheriff Margaret Mims*/ said, "So far we have twice the number of inmates projected in the jail as opposed to the numbers given to us by the state."

Sheriff Mims told the Board of Supervisors that instead of the three or so extra prisoners she was expecting to hold, the number is over five hundred. While the states picking up most of the cost she anticipates a $1.6 million budget shortage. It's the result of the state's realignment of the prison system. The goal of realignment is to keep some offenders out of prison, and in county jails and treatment programs.

Fresno County Public Defender Ken Taniguchi told the board, "Realignment is a marvelous approach. It's a kind of a shake up to the existing system we have right now."

Taniguchi told the board once fully implemented, this approach will reduce crime because he says the state prison system doesn't rehabilitate, it creates more dangerous criminals.

"They are our people," said Taniguchi. "These are citizens of our county that in the past were sent off to prison and brought back in worse shape because nothing was done to address their underlying risk needs."

The state is providing money to the county for drug and mental health treatment programs. Sheriff Mims is hoping those programs get going soon.

Sheriff Mims said, "We're going to eventually fill up all of our room and we will be back in the same situation and that's why I'm hoping the evidence based programs to keep people from reoffending in the first place work."

State realignment funds will help the sheriff open a floor of the jail by April. The county supervisors just learned the county will be getting some unexpected back tax revenues from the state. The sheriff is hoping they will use some of that to cover her additional $1.6 million dollars in costs.

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