Ten counties in California, which account for 70 percent of the state’s jail population, have experienced an increase in jail violence due to Realignment, according to the Associated Press.
The Associated Press reported county jails hold the majority of local inmates in California. There was “a surge in the number of inmate fights and attacks on jail employees,” according to assault records.
Because of the state’s Realignment plan to reduce the state prison population, thousands of offenders, who would have been sent to state prison, are now serving their sentences in county jails.
According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Realignment Report, Dec. 2013, “No offender received an early release from prison under Realignment.”
“Some jails have seen violence dip, but the trend is toward more assaults since the law took effect on Oct. 1, 2011,” the AP reported. “The change has shifted many of the same problems the state had experienced to local jails.”
According to the AP, there were 2,000 more fights among inmates in county lockups in the first year following Realignment than in the previous year–a 33 percent increase. During the same period, attacks on jail employees also increased.
Los Angeles County, the largest county jail system in the state, experienced an increase of 21 percent in its inmate population. That brought a significant increase in inmate-on-inmate assaults, which are up 44 percent, according to the AP.
Los Angeles County jail spokesperson Steve Whitmore said his county’s 704 additional assaults can be attributed to “sheer numbers,” as its average daily population soared by more than 3,000 inmates after Realignment.
“You’re seeing a little more gang influence inside the jails and a little more violence,” said San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon. “Certainly, the sophistication level of these inmates is different.”
“The violence is just being transferred to the local facilities from the state system,” said Fresno County Assistant Sheriff Tom Gattie.
The AP reported that Fresno County has seen a 40 percent increase in its population since Realignment took effect, “inmate-on-inmate fights have increased 48 percent.”
Reportedly, Sacramento County jail has experienced a 164 percent increase in assaults on employees, “the greatest percentage increase of any large county,” even though its population has not grown and remains close to its design capacity of 4,125 inmates, the AP reported.
“Sacramento County was the only one to see a decrease in inmate-on-inmate assaults, while Alameda, Los Angeles and Santa Clara counties saw declines in assaults on staff,” the AP reported.
During the same period the CDCR’s inmate-on-inmate assaults dropped 15 percent, and staff assaults dropped by 24 percent as its population declined, according to statistics obtained by the AP through a public records request.