LA sheriff could free 4,000 inmates due to budget

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The head of the nation's largest sheriff's department is warning that the economic meltdown may mean early release for thousands of jail inmates.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca tells The Associated Press it looks as if he'll have to close two jails and eliminate the positions of the staff at those facilities.

About 600 deputy and professional positions could be eliminated.

The department faces a $71 million cut to its $2.5 billion budget in the coming fiscal year.

Baca says "there's no way around" the cuts.

Baca says violent offenders from the closed jails will be housed in other facilities.

He was forced to take similar action during an unforeseen downturn from 2002-05.

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