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Jail expansion: Last option in crime fight?

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POSTED July 6, 2013 2:10 a.m.

There is no room at the inn.

Those arrested for petty, non-violent crimes end up back on the street in a couple of days – some within 24-hours – only for police to often run across them for the same crime.

Supervisor Steve Bestolarides, whose district includes all of Lathrop and a good portion of Manteca is examining options —  including expanding the jail — to meet the need that AB 109 – commonly referred to as the “realignment” bill that was passed by the California legislature and signed by the Governor.

The two-term Supervisor will be on hand to speak about  the United States Supreme Court ruling to alleviate overcrowding in California’s prisons and the inability for inmates to find access to decent health care – both of which eventually trickled down to the county level.

The talk, which takes place on Monday, July 8, will begin at 8 a.m. It will take place at the Lathrop District Chamber of Commerce, located at 15040 S. Harland Road.

With the demand of releasing tens of thousands of low-level and low-risk inmates from state custody looming, county jails like San Joaquin’s were charged with serving as a receiving facility for those with less than three years on their sentence.

Those that would normally serve time at the county jail – where sentences can last up to one-year – have since been shuffled into the already overwhelmed probation department, and electronic monitoring has become standard fare.

The state took a pair of steps towards meeting the federal mandate in the last five years – retrofitting a vacant wing of the San Joaquin County General Hospital for inmates that need acute care, and constructing a massive prison hospital off of Arch Road designed serve patients long-term.

And that leaves the county jail as the last bastion of the new system that hasn’t been overhauled.

It’ll be up to the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors to determine where they want to go in order to meet the rising need that realignment brings – something that has altered the landscape of the jail and brought a prison-like atmosphere that didn’t exist before.

The jail currently has 1,333 beds, and after build out of the one current proposed expansion that number would swell to just under 3,000.

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