Agency: Prison Realignment Law Undermines Role of Judges

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - A state oversight agency says overcrowding in many county jails is forcing local sheriffs to assume the role traditionally held by judges in deciding who should make bail and how long convicts should serve behind bars.

The Little Hoover Commission said in an eight-page letter to the governor and legislative leaders Thursday that the problem is aggravated by a two-year-old state law that is sending thousands of lower-level convicts to county jails instead of state prisons.

The so-called realignment law was promoted by Gov. Jerry Brown as a way to comply with federal court orders to relieve state prison crowding. The commission says overcrowding in county jails is an unintended consequence.

The commission says the trend of sheriffs making sentencing decisions raises questions about due process and separation of powers.

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