SACRAMENTO-Assemblymember Henry T. Perea (D-Fresno) has introduced legislation that would give law enforcement officials an important tool to keep dangerous, habitual offenders behind bars.
Assembly Bill 1393, Keeping Repeat Offenders Behind Bars, would give California superior court judges the authority to send repeat offenders to jails in neighboring counties when there is no room to house them in the county where they offended.
“Giving judges the ability to send repeat offenders to other county jails is the only responsible solution to our overcrowding problems,” Assemblymember Perea said. “Allowing criminals to walk free and reoffend is not acceptable. We must work on a solution that empowers law enforcement officials and keeps our neighborhoods safe.”
Current federal mandates regarding overcrowding at county jails have allowed the early release of tens of thousands of so-called “non-violent” offenders. In Fresno County, more than 30,600 inmates were released from jail early due to overcrowding between 2009 and 2011.
“Many criminals are now being released prior to arraignment and committing other crimes, significantly driving up the City's crime rate and threatening the safety of residents,” said Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin. “Now is the time to act to protect Fresno families. I look forward to working with Assemblymember Perea and the Legislature to expedite consideration and passage.”
Law enforcement experts agree the best solution to getting repeat offenders off the streets is to contract with a facility in a neighboring county that has sufficient room to house repeat offenders. However, current state law doesn’t give judges the authority to transfer prisoners to another county based on overcrowding.
“We cannot allow jurisdictional boundaries to prevent us from keeping our citizens safe,” Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said. “When a jail is at capacity in one county resulting in the early release of prisoners, it is imperative that our officers have the ability to take arrestees to a jail in a neighboring county where space is available. AB 1393 will allow this to occur. To do otherwise unnecessarily subjects our citizens to greater risk of being victimized.”
Contact: Alisha Gallon 661-364-3655