Under fire for overcrowded jails, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca is seeking the power to force thousands of inmates to be placed on detention in their homes, the Los Angeles Times reports. Prisoners rights advocates are fighting the idea, saying that it would mean many more inmates would be deprived of the medical and mental health care they get behind bars. Baca called the proposed new power a short-term solution to the overcrowding that has forced him to release thousands of inmates after they served only a small fraction of their sentences.
If granted the new authority by the state, the sheriff expects to assign about 2,000 inmates with low-level offenses to involuntary home detention, where they will wear electronic ankle bracelets that tell officials whether the convicts stray from their homes. Home detention has been controversial. When Baca sent Paris Hilton home from jail last month, an outcry rose from the public and prosecutors. Sen. Jeff Denham cited Hilton in explaining why he voted no: “I take a very tough stance on crime. I very strongly believe if you commit the crime, you have to do the time. We should not be creating a system where the rich and famous like Hilton who can afford a good attorney get different treatment.” The answer to overcrowded jails is building more, he said.