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Pitchess plans for full house

Posted: October 1, 2011 1:30 a.m.
Updated: October 1, 2011 1:30 a.m.

Santa Clarita Valley can expect the local jail complex to take in 171 inmates every week under the state’s inmate-transfer program that begins today.

“Our projections are that we will start seeing an increase at Pitchess of 171 inmates a week,” said Lt. Mark McCorkle, who heads custody operations at Pitchess Detention Center.

Much of the county-run detention center in Castaic was emptied of inmates in March 2010 in a cost-cutting move, freeing up nearly 2,500 beds.

The inmates destined for Pitchess under the plan to reduce the state’s inmate population are referred to as “non-non-nons,” he said.

That means the inmates are sentenced for crimes considered “nonsexual, nonviolent and nonserious.”

Asked how many weeks the 171-inmate-per-week influx would last, McCorkle said: “There is no sunset date.”

The inmate-release program — called prison realignment by state officials — has some county officials worried.

The plan proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown calls for counties to assume some state parole oversight functions, as well as incarcerating some state prison inmates.

When the “realignment” is finished, thousands of state prisoners and parolees are expected to be transferred to counties’ responsibilities.

The state is also providing funds for the transfers, but critics say it’s not enough money to pay for counties’ added expenses.

Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich is telling his constituents in the Fifth District, which includes the Santa Clarita Valley, to brace for crime, as the state releases thousands of inmates across 58 counties.

“Contrary to (Brown’s) comments that realignment is a ‘bold’ step, it is actually a reckless and pathetic shirking of the state’s responsibility to its citizens,” Antonovich said.

“The governor’s statement: ‘There’s no turning back; the only way is forward’ is stupid when his only way forward is falling off a cliff,” Antonovich said, calling the plan a “Trojan horse.”

Local jailers began bracing the influx of inmates in May after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling was handed down aimed at alleviating overcrowding in state prisons.

The court ruling paved the way for state officials to begin reducing California’s prison population by about 33,000 inmates over the next two years.


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