Local officials in California are hastily assembling plans to squeeze thousands of criminals into their county jails and onto probation rolls, the first step in a massive shake-up of the state’s prison system, reports the Wall Street Journal. Over the next few years, county jails will see a flood of an estimated 75,000 inmates who would have previously gone to state prisons, while 26,500 would-be state parolees will now be supervised by county officers. The shift follows Gov. Jerry Brown’s signing of a bill in April mandating the change.
Set to go into effect in October, the change is meant to save money and reduce state-prison overcrowding, an especially urgent task after a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that California must shed thousands of inmates from its prisons. In coming weeks, Fresno County may reopen an entire closed floor of a jail, while Los Angeles County could hire hundreds of new probation officers. San Bernardino County plans to allow more home detentions. The state will provide counties with funding to handle the new inmates and would-be parolees.