The fight to keep inmates in California prisons continues.
Earlier this month, a panel of federal judges ruled California’s overcrowded prisons constituted cruel and unusual punishment.
That means the state must release a third of it’s inmates.
Now the Riverside County District Attorney wants to do something about it.
Rod Pacheco has teamed up with 19 other D.A.’s around the state to file an appeal against the 9th circuit court’s ruling to release inmates within the next 2 years.
Of the 57,000 inmates california’s scheduled to release, 3,000 of those would end up in Riverside County.
The ruling also created a cap on the inmate population.
Right now there’s about 159,000 inmates crammed into 33 california prisons.
The cap would cut that number to 104,000.
Any extra prisoners would either be jailed or released.
“They won’t even let them into prison. They won’t even book them, take their pictures or put them in a cell. They’ll stop them at the door and say ‘your hearby released,'” says Pacheco.
The early release of prisoners is an ongoing issue in Riverside County.
Over the past 4 years the county has released more than 15,000 people early.
With extra inmates released from prison and no place to house them, Pacheco fears crime will rise dramatically.
“They say ‘I’ve got a get out of jail free card. I can’t be punished, they won’t punish me, they don’t have enough space in their local jails, they don’t have any room in their prisons. I can’t be punished so let them try and stop me,'” says Pacheco.
The Riverside County jail system is already full and the released prisoners would only add to the problem.
That’s why the District Attorney is pushing for a new county jail.
The proposed jail would add 7,200 extra beds.
Pacheco doesn’t care where it’s built just as that enough beds are built in the first phase.
County Officals want 1,200 beds to start with, he wants double that.
“We have the money to build to capacity,” says Pacheco. “We need a 2,400 bed phase, phase 1. So that we can catch up because we’re behind and we’ve been behind for a decade.”
Pacheco started the lawsuit a year and a half ago.
He and the other D.A.’s will file to delay inmate release while they take their appeal to the Supreme Court.
The final ruling on california prisoners will come within the next month or two.
And if the court doesn’t grant a delay, we could see inmates released by the summer.
but Pacheco is confident that won’t happen.
“And I think we’ll win. If we don’t win Riverside County’s going to be one of the hardest hit counties. Both in our court system and our jail system and in our public safety,” says Pacheco.