California prison population decline slows


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The rate of the number of inmate beds being emptied by California’s diversion of low-level offenders to county jails instead of state prisons is slowing.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s latest census shows a total of 134,152 inmates within the state prison system at the close of July. That’s 26,600 fewer state inmates since October, when California began requiring counties to keep custody of certain classes of nonviolent offenders, both as they are sentenced and as they are paroled. The decline in July was barely 1,000. At launch, the diversion program was reducing the state prison population by more than 4,000 inmates a month.


County officials are having a hard time measuring the effect of realignment on their end. A July report by county probation officers cited 15,000 new inmates in local jails who otherwise would have been sent to state prison. The figure covers only the first six months of the program and doesn’t account for the full change in the state prison population.

The newly created state Board of State and Community Corrections is still waiting to finalize a similar survey by California sheriffs.


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-- Paige St. John in Sacramento