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County officials, governor meet to discuss jails, funding for threatened cities

Author: SuperUser Account/Tuesday, January 14, 2014/Categories: Uncategorized, Living, Government

Solutions for dealing with convicted criminals who are returned to Riverside County by the state, and finding a legislative fix to replace money lost by four of the most recently incorporated cities were among key topics today (Tuesday) when Gov. Jerry Brown met in Riverside with several top county officials.

The meeting with the governor at the District Attorney’s office in Riverside included Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff Stone, County Executive Officer Jay Orr, District Attorney Paul Zellerbach, Sheriff Stan Sniff, Chief Probation Officer Mark Hake and Presiding Judge Mark Cope of the Riverside Superior Court.

A key issue was the millions of dollars that Wildomar, Menifee, Eastvale and Jurupa Valley lost when state law changed the funding structure for providing cities with revenue from vehicle license fees. Actual revenues the cities received were significantly reduced because the state did not provide property tax revenue to make up for the lost vehicle license fees. As a result, each of the cities has suffered financial stress and Jurupa Valley has said it might be forced to disincorporate as a city unless a solution to the revenue crisis can be found.

“The lost revenue has been a terrible burden, and devastating to our cities,” Stone said. “The meeting was a tremendous opportunity to carefully explain the situation directly to the governor and I hope our discussion will lead to a solution for the cities in the state’s budget. I appreciate that opportunity.”

Another discussion topic focused on the effect of public-safety realignment in California, which was intended to take certain prisoners with convictions for non-violent crimes out of prison and make counties responsible for incarcerating them and monitoring them after release on parole and probation. As a result of legislation that went into effect in October 2011 (AB 109), offenders convicted of non-serious, non-violent, and non-registerable sex crimes are incarcerated in local jails instead of in state prison. Before realignment, offenders who were released were supervised by state parole agents but now they are on Post Release Community Supervision (PRCS) by county probation officers.

The original intent was that prisoners would not be incarcerated more than one year in local jails, but Riverside County jails currently house 279 inmates serving sentences of three years or more. That has worsened crowding in local jails, forced early releases and left Riverside County jails at maximum capacity for two years.

Sheriff Stan Sniff said he enjoyed meeting with the governor and engaging in frank discussions concerning jail overcrowding challenges, jail funding needs, and the impact of AB 109 realignment on each of the county’s communities. Sniff also was pleased he was able to personally advocate on behalf of the cities of Jurupa Valley, Eastvale, Wildomar and Menifee, from the public safety perspective, about restoring their funding “not only for residents but for our law enforcement officers as well.”

Zellerbach said, “I am very appreciative of Gov. Brown talking the time specifically to come to Riverside County to discuss issues of public safety with the county’s public safety leaders.”  

“This clearly demonstrates that the governor appreciates our leadership roles and efforts and that he is willing to work with us to help resolve the problems and issues we have experienced with realignment,” he said. “This was a tremendous opportunity to have this significant time alone with the governor, away from Sacramento, to directly discuss Riverside County issues and concerns.”

Riverside County is in the process of adding 1,250 beds at the county jail in Indio and has asked for expedited agreements with state officials in order to move forward with the jail expansion as quickly as possible. The county received a $100 million state grant for jail construction and has made the construction of appropriate jail space one of its highest priorities.

County Executive Office Jay Orr described the governor as “thoughtful, concerned and willing to spend valuable time so he could better understand the issues our county faces.”

“We do not have the opportunity very often for this kind of face-to-face meeting and we not only appreciate his efforts, we look forward to further discussions with the governor and his administration on these important issues,” Orr said.

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