Budget cuts force early releases in Fresno County

Posted on August 28, 2008. Filed under: California State Budget, Crime |

The Associated Press
Published 11:43 am PDT Thursday, August 28, 2008

Fresno County’s sheriff plans to release 800 of the 2,200 inmates awaiting trial in an effort to trim $3 million from her department’s budget.

Sheriff Margaret Mims says the releases are necessary because the department needs to lay off 20 guards and close two floors of the county jail to deal with the cuts.

Mims plans to release nonviolent offenders charged with misdemeanors first, then those charged with nonviolent felonies. Violent criminals will not be released.

Fresno Mayor Alan Autry on Wednesday urged the county not to release inmates, calling the move “premature.” Mims says her staff already has spent two years finding other ways to cut.

California State Sheriff’s Association’s legislative director Nick Warner says budget concerns have forced other counties to consider early releases as well.

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