Tuesday, April 5, 2011

San Diego Union Tribune: Governor Signs Prisoner Shift Bill With No Money

Sheriff Gore balks at prisoner shift

Monday, April 4, 2011 at 8:14 p.m.
San Diego Union Tribune

San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore says he feels betrayed by Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature on legislation to begin shipping some state prisoners to county jails.

“Where does that money come from? What do I quit doing to house the state’s prisoners? Do I release other inmates?” Gore said.

Gore, other sheriffs and law enforcement forces across the state had labored in vain to convince Brown to send the measure back to the Legislature so that a concrete funding deal could be worked out.

“We feel betrayed,” Gore said, noting Brown and lawmakers had pledged to provide funding.

The governor originally intended for the prisoner transfer to be funded as part of a broader realignment of state and county programs financed through a five-year extension of some tax increases due to expire June 30.

Republicans balked at placing the tax extension before voters, leaving the realignment package in limbo.

In a signing message accompanying Assembly Bill 109 on Monday, Brown insisted that the state will either pay for the costs or the transfer of low-level prisoners to counties will be scrapped. No violent state prisoners will be transferred, he noted.

Brown said that a new community corrections grant program implementing the prisoner handoff plan still had to be developed. He pledged not to agree to any proposal without funding. And no state inmates would be transferred until after an agreement with law enforcement is reached, he said.

The state is under pressure to cut costs, relieve overcrowding and provide greatly expanded health care for inmates. Gore is nervous that the state could change course at any time.

Law enforcement, he said, only pledged to back the complex realignment package as long as sheriffs were given more discretion over programs and as long as voters had an opportunity to approve a guaranteed funding source that would be placed off-limits to lawmakers.

“Where are they going to get the money without the tax extension? I don’t see it,” Gore said.

The transfer of prisoners is not the only ongoing issue before law enforcement if the state has to continue to make cuts.

San Diego County would also lose funding for jail staffing, juvenile crime prevention, and special crime units targeting stalkers, gangs and those who abuse senior citizens.

San Diego County alone stands to lose $22.3 million in public safety funding

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