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Have California’s Prison Reform Efforts Made Its County Jails More Dangerous?

May 6, 2019

“Realignment” may have led to an increase in violence at county jails

Have California’s Prison Reform Efforts Made Its County Jails More Dangerous?

In 2011, the United States Supreme Court ordered the state of California to reduce its prison population due to overcrowding. The state had long been notorious for its tough on crime approach, but that system had led to inhumane conditions at its prisons. As a result, California officials began the process of moving prisoners from state prisons to county jails in what they deemed “realignment.”

According to a recent investigation, while realignment served its original goal of reducing the population of prisoners in state prisons, it may have come at a steep cost. Many county jails are now overwhelmed with prisoners, some of whom have issues that are more serious than these jails can handle. These jails are not necessarily equipped to handle inmates who are mentally ill, particularly violent, or who have exceptionally long sentences. The investigation revealed that inmates in county jails are facing far more violence — and even death — than before realignment.

Since the realignment process started, the state has made billions of dollars of funding available to help counties address overcrowding and institute reforms. While many counties have used these funds to make the well-being of inmates a priority, others — particularly several counties in Northern California, such as Fresno County — have failed to do so. Between 2011 and 2018, there were 47 inmate deaths in Fresno County Jail — more than double the number for the 7 years preceding realignment (23).

The problems within the county jail system are challenging. Having a criminal defense lawyer Anaheim, CA can help a person accused of a crime in several ways. First, if you are represented by counsel, your attorney may be able to make an argument for you to be released on bail pending trial. This may reduce the amount of time that you are required to spend in jail, particularly if you are ultimately not convicted of a crime. Second, your attorney can advocate for you if you are held in jail pending trial. Third, your criminal defense lawyer Anaheim, CA can put together the strongest possible defense for your case. This may include negotiating with the prosecutor to have the charges reduced or even dismissed. Fourth, if you are convicted or decide to plead guilty, your lawyer can argue for favorable sentencing for you. In this way, you can decrease the likelihood that you will spend a significant amount of time — if any — in county jail.

Of course, each case is unique and results will depend on the facts of the case. However, working with a skilled criminal defense lawyer Anaheim, CA — such as the legal professionals of the Chambers Law Firm — can help you to protect your rights and your freedom.

If you have been charged with a crime, the Chambers Law Firm can help. Contact us today at 855-397-0210 or dchambers@clfca.com to schedule a free initial consultation or to learn more about our services.

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