With jails, drug-rehab centers, and probation offices swamped, Los Angeles County is bracing to take on thousands more low-risk convicts who could come their way as part of a proposed legal settlement to reduce state prison overcrowding, the Los Angeles Times reports. The idea of reducing the state prison population by shifting offenders to county programs and facilities is causing anxiety among those who would be expected to take on the additional responsibilities.
“I’m pretty worried,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, whose jail system is under a court order to ease overcrowded facilities. “The impact is substantial because we have the largest percentage of the prison population coming out of our county. If you don’t plan it carefully and with success in mind, what you get is catastrophe.” The proposed settlement comes two years after attorneys for prisoners asked a federal court to impose a cap on the prison population. Under the draft agreement, new offenders and parole violators would be diverted from state prison and remain in home communities to be watched over by county probation officers, jailers, and state parole agents.