SHERIFF TALKS ABOUT INFLUX OF AB109 PRISONERS, PART 2 OF 2

SHERIFF TALKS ABOUT INFLUX OF AB109 PRISONERS, PART 2 OF 2

With county jails at capacity, and having to add another 300 inmates a month due to the Inmate Realignment Act, or AB109, Sheriff John McMahon told the Yucca Valley Town Council at its meeting Tuesday night that something’s gotta give. In part 2 of two, managing editor Tami Roleff said the Sheriff’s Department is looking at new strategies for dealing with inmates…

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Sheriff John McMahon described how county jails used to work. “We arrest a guy, put him in jail. Problem solved. We moved on to the next one. We just warehoused inmates over the years. It didn’t really help much. It solved the problem, but it didn’t help turn their life around.” But that approach doesn’t work anymore, he said. “We can’t afford to build enough jails, and if we could, we couldn’t afford to staff them, to house the number of inmates we need to house.” McMahon talked about some job programs that give the inmates skills that they can use once they’re released from jail. “We’re now putting our own inmates on fire crews. Great success stories coming out of that. They just love being a part of that crew because everybody appreciates what they do. We’ve had great success stories coming out of that. They can get a job with US government fighting fires, they can get a job with private contractors that fight fires in Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho, so there are job opportunities once they get released with those skills.” He added the goal is to keep recidivism as low as possible. “We need to spend our time and effort on the ones we can change.” “What we’re doing now is not what we’ve done in the past. But clearly we had to do something to make a difference.” McMahon noted that the recidivism rate of inmates on probation—40 percent—is much lower than the 70 percent rate of inmates released from state prison.

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