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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California
Southern California

Local Jails to House More Serious Offenders

California instituted a new plan to decrease the number of inmates held in state prisons by relocating them to local prisons. 

Coming to a jail near you, more convicted felons.   

California Inmates (Associated Press)
California Inmates (Associated Press)

County jails will begin filling up as California has restructured its prison system to house more inmates in local jails and send fewer to state prisons. 

The court-mandated relocation strategy, which became effective last Saturday, is an effort to depopulate overcrowded state prisons.

The new system will keep any prisoner who is sentenced to less than three years in local jails, excluding those convicted of violent or sex-related crimes.  It does not exclude those convicted of lower-level crimes, such as selling drugs, theft, violating parole and repeat offenders. 

The state has set a goal of reducing prison numbers by more than 30,000, roughly a 20% decrease of its current population of 144,000.  The current conditions in state prisons have been called a violation of human rights, due to being so overcrowded. 

The relocation process will happen gradually, with judges changing sentencing proceedures rather than shipping busloads of prisoners to local jails en mass.


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