L.A. Sheriff Lee Baca says 'enough is enough' to prison releases

The prospect of seeing thousands of California prisoners released to the streets of Los Angeles, or even landing in the Los Angeles County jail, disturbs Sheriff Lee Baca.

"We are managing ... but we are at our capacity," said Baca's spokesman, Steve Whitmore. "The sheriff believes that we cannot take any more state prisoners. ... Enough is enough."

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday rejected a request by Gov. Jerry Brown to delay a federal court order requiring California to reduce the state's inmate population by 9,600 prisoners. Options for the prisoner release include paying to house inmates in private prisons, expanding parole programs and releasing prisoners early.

Whitmore said Baca rejected discussions to have county jails absorb more of the state's prison population.

"I can’t say it in the strongest possible words, the sheriff believes we are at our limit when it comes to state prisoners,” Whitmore said.

Attorneys representing the governor this week told a panel of federal judges the state is "pursuing" options to contract with counties for bed space. Whitmore said those talks with Los Angeles County were put on hold "a while ago."

Baca also says that state prison inmates cannot be released early without increasing the risk of crime.

"We are stretched to the limit in law enforcement," Whitmore said. "The federal courts are making decisions that can impact negatively public safety."

Meanwhile, Los Angeles County is negotiating to take over five fire-fighting camps now run by the state Corrections Department. The county would send jail inmates to those camps to help reduce its own local crowding problems.


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