By Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer
The Orange County Board of Supervisors approved a request Tuesday by the Sheriff’s Department to seek $80 million in SB 1022 funding from the State of California. If the State grants these funds, they will be spent on inmate rehabilitation and a maximum of 384 additional inmate beds by 2018 at the James A. Musick Facility.
“As a result of overcrowding and the push by the State to put prisoners in our County jails under AB 109, we’re going to push low-level offenders into the street. We’re at risk of early release of prisoners in this County. We’re at risk of not allowing our local jurisdictions to book and to have custody-timed sentences for low level offenders,” Supervisor Todd Spitzer said. “Low-level, by definition, is drunk driving, domestic violence, battery, assault, and other crimes that are bad but don’t necessarily arise to the level of a felony, where you would have somebody in a maximum-security bed.”
On four separate occasions just in 2013 alone, the Sheriff’s Department has asked city police departments to retain arrested suspects rather than turn them over to the County jail during busy weekends, including this past weekend, in addition to St. Patrick’s Day and Labor Day earlier this year.
At Spitzer’s urging, County Supervisors adopted several amendments to the resolution authorizing the application to ensure that this grant will not grow the Musick Jail by more than 384 additional beds. This balances local community concerns in keeping the jail size down while also ensuring enough capacity to house inmates to protect public safety.
“My amendments make it abundantly clear that the County is seeking funding for only these 384 additional beds,” Supervisor Spitzer also said. “Any claims that the County is increasing the number of beds beyond these 384 additional beds is political rhetoric and intentionally misleading.”
The resolution also ensures that the County will not lease these beds out to other entities, guaranteeing that these 384 new beds will only be used to rehabilitate low-level inmates arrested in Orange County.