In Yolo County, Ca., if it’s a question of doing the jail time or paying the fine, defendants take the 30 days because they know they’ll be free in three, says the Sacramento Bee. In Sacramento, jailers tell cops to hold off on things like domestic violence sweeps until they know they’ll have enough space to accommodate the spousal abusers. In Placer County, one of the top early-release jurisdictions in California, more than 2,000 inmates skated out of jail last year before they served a collective total of 94 years of the time they owed.
County jails are so full that sheriffs are being forced to let inmates out early or to adjust their policies so that they don’t even try to hold their lowest-level miscreants. Last year, the 58 counties released 86,064 convicted inmates from jail before they had completed their sentences, says the California State Sheriffs Association. Jails released another 103,859 local inmates before trial because they didn’t have any room. The problem is twofold: Counties don’t have any money to build new jail space, and most jails operate under court-ordered population caps that restrict how many people they can keep locked up at any given time.