Antonovich calls for reducing early releases from jails

Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich asked sheriff's officials to look into ways to stem early releases of county jail inmates serving time for violence and sex crimes, after a report by the Los Angeles Times on the increasing number of inmates released early.

"The county needs options that result in [serious and violent offenders] serving their full sentences," Antonovich said.

The increase in early releases comes as a result of budget cuts and state prison realignment, which shifted responsibility for housing certain lower-level felons from state prisons to county jails. L.A. County houses about 6,000 of those inmates. They are not eligible for early release, increasing the pressure to release traditional county inmates, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Antonovich asked the Sheriff's Department to provide supervisors with a report by Sept. 12 analyzing options that would increase time served by those inmates. He asked that the report include a look at a proposal to contract with state corrections to send more than 500 inmates with long sentences to firefighting camps, as well as potential contracts with Taft Community Correctional Facility and other out-of-state facilities for bed space.

The supervisors had been slated Tuesday to discuss the proposed fire camp contract, as well as a consultant's report that discussed the cost of building enough jail space to increase the average time served, but the item was postponed for two weeks.

So far in 2013, the Sheriff's Department has released more than 23,000 inmates before their jail terms were up. During all of 2012, the county released 26,000 inmates early, according to department records. In 2011, the number was about 15,700.

Inmates convicted of serious and violent offenses and sentenced to county jail serve 40% of their sentences. Those convicted of lesser crimes in many cases are released almost immediately after sentencing.

-- Abby Sewell and Jack Leonard, Los Angeles Times


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