Most Los Angeles County convicts will spend significantly more time in jail, says the Los Angeles Times. Sheriff Lee Baca now has the resources to hold male inmates for at least 50 percent of their sentences, a significant change from the early-release policy that he implemented more than four years ago to ease jail overcrowding. Since mid-2002, nearly 200,000 inmates have been released early from an overwhelmed jail system, many after serving less than 10 percent of their sentences. The sheriff can hold inmates longer because he has freed more than 1,000 beds by ending a long-standing practice of housing state prison inmates in the county jails. Prosecutors expect that many inmates will accept community service or house arrest, now that the alternative could mean more time in jail.
Prosecutors and police countywide have been frustrated by the early releases, which Baca said were prompted by budget cuts that forced him to reduce staff and jail capacity. Until yesterday, inmates sentenced to 90 days or fewer often were booked into jail and released the same day. “This will help the whole system by making jail time a real potential,” said District Attorney Steve Cooley. Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton believes the change would help him reach his goal of reducing crime 5 percent this year.