More jail inmates in Los Angeles County are being set free after serving only a small fraction of their sentences because of budget problems and a space crunch caused by an influx of offenders now serving their terms in county jails rather than state prisons, reports the Los Angeles Times. The releases are benefiting even inmates sentenced for violence and sex crimes. Those offenders are out after serving as little as 40 percent of the time they were meant to spend behind bars, say Sheriff’s Department records obtained by The Times under the California Public Records Act.
Other criminals are serving even shorter stints. Jailers immediately release male inmates sentenced to less than 90 days and female offenders sentenced to less than 240 days. This year, the Sheriff’s Department has released more than 23,000 inmates before their jail terms were up, a sharp increase over recent years. During all of 2012, the county released 26,000 inmates early, according to department records. In 2011, the number was about 15,700. Gloria Molina, a member of the county board of supervisors, accused Sheriff Lee Baca of cutting the time inmates serve “willy-nilly” and said early releases do a disservice to the victims of crime.