As California Gov. Jerry Brown seeks re-election next month, Republicans say decisions he made to reduce prison overcrowding are endangering the public by putting more criminals on the streets, the Associated Press reports. About 13,000 inmates each month are being released early from crowded county jails while they await trial or before they complete their full sentences. More than 5,000 state prisoners had earlier releases this year because of federal court orders, legislation signed by the governor and a recently approved state ballot initiative.
Crime rates statewide dropped last year across all categories of violent and property offenses, from murder and rape to auto theft and larceny, according to the most recent figures from the state Department of Justice. Still, county sheriffs and probation chiefs say they are concerned about getting too little financial support from the state and too many dangerous offenders in their jails. At the same time, they say they are doing their best to make the 3-year-old policy shift work, in part by devoting more of the staff and money they do have to rehabilitation programs. Under the law, known as realignment, those convicted of lower-level offenses serve their time in county jails rather than state prisons. It is one of California’s responses to a federal court order to reduce its prison population.