Orange County’s jail populations decreased significantly last year. The drop in numbers reflects a decline in California inmates.Public Policy Institute of California’s study determined that Proposition 47 (a 2014 voter-approved measure which reduced some felony drug and theft offenses to minor misdemeanors) was successful in reaching its goal, reducing county-held inmates by nearly 9 per cent statewide.
Orange County jails have seen a more significant drop. The Sheriff’s Department reports that the average number of inmates per day in Orange County dropped by 15 % last year, from 6,805 people in 2014 to only 5,755. After AB109, a state law which shifted state prisoner supervision to county agencies, county jails experienced capacity problems for three years.
Steve Kea (Orange County Assistant Sheriff) said, “We were stretched beyond our limits with AB109”. “We literally added bed to Theo Lacy jail and the women’s facility. And we were looking at doing that in other housing before Prop. 47 hit. We saw this in Proposition 47. The 47 law resulted in an increase in minor offenders, which we do not see as much anymore orange county jail.”
In a study published on Wednesday, it was found that the Proposition 47 has reduced inmate populations by reducing the likelihood of low-level criminals being booked at arrest or jailed before pretrial hearings. 47 has reduced the inmate population by reducing the likelihood that low-level criminals will be booked at arrest, jailed prior to pretrial proceedings, convicted, or sentenced for lengthy jail stays. All those changes reduced by half, the number of people being jailed or sentenced to time in county prisons for violating Prop. 47 offenses.
This research is consistent with what Orange County police have seen on the ground. Officers said that they are more inclined to cite misdemeanor offenders and release them than to lock them up in the county jail. Prop 47 includes low-level crimes such as thefts of less than $900 in goods, possession of small amounts cocaine or heroin and possession of methamphetamine.
Many local police officials place the blame on Prop. 47 makes it hard to keep drug addicts or other low-level offenders in prison, leaving them free to repeat crimes and steal for their addictions. Some criminologists disagree with this claim and say the research does not support it. They warn police tend to oppose legislation before they have done a thorough analysis.
Kea explained that changes to jail operations have been brought about by demographic changes, both due to the decrease in low-level criminals and the shifting of state prisoner control from counties.Inmates will be shuffled around as the county renovates jails. A program that sent misdemeanors into jail instead of wearing GPS ankle bands is also being reduced.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Deputy’s Union alleges, despite a recent drop in the jail population, that the county jails had understaffed in the month of January when three prisoners escaped from Central Men’s Jail Santa Ana. In February the union sued Sheriff Sandra Hutchens as well as the department, alleging that staff reductions were responsible for the escape of three inmates from Central Men’s Jail in Santa Ana.
Knowing the basics, such as when you can have visitors or what you can purchase at the commissary will save you from the usual confusion regarding your daily life during your sentence. Once you’ve cleared your mind of mental roadblocks, it will be easier to focus and cope.
Remind yourself that jail isn’t prison. It depends on how you view it, but being sent to jail could be a good experience. Many ex-inmates view their time behind bars as a ‘wake up call’ and have made positive life changes after they are released. Be strong, stay focused on getting past this experience, look forward to a day when you can put this behind you.