Early Release Imminent for Riverside County Inmates

The influx of inmates from state prisons has pushed county jails to capacity

By James Hourani
|  Tuesday, Dec 13, 2011  |  Updated 6:27 PM PDT
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The influx of inmates from state prisons has pushed county jails to capacity.

Craig Fiegener

The influx of inmates from state prisons has pushed county jails to capacity.

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Riverside County operates five jails, and next month, as many as 500 inmates could go free.

“We’re picking up about 200 inmates a month since Oct. 1,” says Sheriff Stan Sniff of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.

Sniff is referring to the influx of inmates that the county is receiving from state facilities as part of a new, cost cutting state law that sends nonviolent offenders to county jails.

“Those jail beds are now being filled up with long-term inmates, not short term jail inmates but prison inmates,” says Sniff.

County jails used to hold inmates for up to three years but now Sniff says they are housing prisoners with up to 30-year sentences. He says Riverside County jails will likely reach capacity sometime in January.

Sniff says a federal court order requires Riverside County to release inmates once jails are full.
One solution is alternative sentencing.

“Work release programs are going to be sped up in this county,” says Sniff.

He says ankle bracelets and GPS monitors will also be used to track inmates who are released early.

Sheriff Sniff says he plans on hiring 100 new jail staffers and Riverside County did receive money from the state. He says, there is no guarantee the county will receive more money next year, but he will guarantee there will be prisoners.

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