It comes down to a matter of public safety. With less funding and less space, everyone is trying to figure out how to implement the "prison realignment" law signed last April.
This is what it looked like at the Community Corrections Partnership meeting Wednesday morning. The county's top law enforcement officers gathering to discuss AB 109. The law will allow the transfer of nonviolent felons from the state prison system to the counties. For Butte County, it means an extra 250 prisoners in the jail by the end of the year.
District Attorney Mike Ramsey says, "This is not something were pleased with. We feel that the state is, through their budgetary problems, foisting it upon the county."
Ramsey sat with Butte County Sheriff Jerry Smith, Butte County Administrative Officer Paul Hahn, and others representing the courts, probation office, and social services... Trying to come up with a plan based on the limited 2.7 million dollars the county will receive from the state to accommodate these new prisoners. "Which is not a lot of money to make this happen. We have to look at alternative custody measures to do things to fit in that particular budget," says Sheriff Smith.
And officials say building more room for all 250 is definitely not an option. So what will they do? Ramsey says, "Pre-trial release programs, programs to bring alcohol and drug and job training into the jail slash prison.."
From here on out, the county is deciding where the additional money needs to come from, in order to pay for this new plan. So that the lack of funding won't affect public safety. Smith says, "We're doing a variety of different things to assure public safety and although there will be additional folks coming back to our community, they're not going to be unsupervised." Ramsey says, "Number one item is always public safety."
This group, community corrections partnership, will need to come up with a clear plan including cost.. That will be brought to the board of supervisors by October 1st.