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150 IE inmates to be free due to realignment

December 9, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
More than a hundred San Bernardino County jail inmates will be released back on the streets due to overcrowding. It's the result of the state's controversial new realignment plan.

Sheriff's deputies began releasing jail inmates on Friday, and about 150 parole violators will be released early over the next five days.

"We've reached capacity. We have to do this. We don't have any choice," said Cindy Bachman of the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

The inmates will be under the supervision of state parole. The inmates have to have served at least half of their sentence, and have less than 30 days remaining on their sentence.

Just-released inmates from the West Valley Detention Center said the jail was extremely overcrowded. One inmate said he had to sleep on the floor.

"We got nowhere to sleep, no beds, no blankets, nothing," said Gregory Ferguson.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff said they don't have room for new arrestees and the state prison inmates who are now in their custody.

The Sheriff will also consider the inmate's criminal history and conduct while behind bars.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed the realignment act into law to reduce California's state inmate population by 30,000. Brown says the plan will help ease overcrowding.

The governor says it's not a perfect plan, but it's part of a solution.

As many as 8,000 offenders, who would have gone to prison for crimes like involuntary manslaughter and felony child abuse, are now serving their time in county jails.

Since Oct. 1, those inmates have increased the population in San Bernardino County jails to near capacity.

The Sheriff says it's necessary to let parole violators out early to free up space for more high-priority inmates.