Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca says that chronic budget problems forced the early release of 63,332 County Jail inmates, many of whom served as little as 10 percent of their sentences, says the Los Angeles Times. “Tens of thousands of these people have not served any form of substantial punishment for their crimes,” Baca said. “What that means is that Los Angeles County and its criminal justice system for low-level offenders has been rendered meaningless through the lack of funding.”
Baca called a news conference outside downtown’s Twin Towers jail to ask for public support of Measure A on Tuesday’s ballot. The measure, which Baca conceived, would increase the sales tax in the county from 8.25 percent to 8.75 percent to pay for 5,000 more police officers and sheriff’s deputies. If the measure wins the two-thirds vote needed to pass, Baca said he will quickly end the early release of inmates. The sheriff began the program in 2002 after the county Board of Supervisors refused to approve a budget increase and he decided to close several jails. That reduced the capacity of the jail system from 22,000 inmates to 17,500.