|By Joe Szydlowski, Redding Record Searchlight, Calif.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
The 919 releases included those serving sentences and those awaiting sentencing, many on drug charges and probation violations. Ten were in custody for violent crimes and 36 on weapon charges.
The charge listed for each inmate in the report is the most serious one they were arrested on before being released.
About 20 percent of the releases were from arrests on suspicion of property crimes, some of them convictions.
Among them, 75 alleged burglars were released -- a topic all too familiar to
Burglars and vandals have broken into her business six times in six months -- so often she no longer reports the crimes to her insurance company.
One of the criminals, caught in late December burglarizing another property, was out in time to celebrate
"It makes me sick to my stomach," she said. "It's starting to look like
But the jail is already 60 percent filled with those accused of violent crimes who have not been sentenced, said jail Lt.
"The bottom line is we don't have the capacity to keep all these folks," he said. "What you're not seeing are those who are not being released, what's behind that, a whole host of the most egregious offenses. We're holding the worst of the worst."
Barry said the thefts have ranged from valuable fairy gardens and flower pots to a basket of sand dollars. Some would climb the fence and hand stuff to accomplices from her store.
She's installed cameras, boarded up windows, put in barbed wire and even looked into the legality of an electric fence.
"Police said, "You're doing what you're supposed to do.' They pretty much said, 'We can't protect you,'" she said. "It feels like doomsday."
Even if the criminals are caught, as one of her burglars was, many are back out on the street quickly, Barry said.
The jail released four convicted burglars in the three months -- one got out 76 days early, another 46 days early -- according to the jail report.
"We would love to have the beds for that, we're tied up with those who are sentenced already," Kent said, noting some inmates are serving multi-year sentences. "Those with violent offenses, they trump the charges of those who come in on burglary charges."
Drug crimes topped the list -- 204 of those released had been arrested on charges involving methamphetamine. Another 89 had been picked up while allegedly carrying another drug, according to the report.
Those releases don't include individuals jailed for public intoxication, Kent said.
The burglars don't target just downtown, said
He said the
"They snatch and grab and they throw it in your face," he said. "It's not only happening in our city. It's happening statewide."
Across from Wild Thyme,
On Thursday, a customer's bike was swiped in broad daylight from in front of the store, she said.
Jail staff evaluates everyone who is brought in and places them in one of six categories, Kent said.
<p>They examine each arrestee's rap sheet, gender, job, housing status, court appearances and charges to keep those with the most violent and worst history away from the lower-level offenders, he said.
But each case is different -- a burglary involving a prowler is more serious because the prowling could lead to violence, he said.
Four men were released who had been arrested on assault with a deadly weapon. The fourth's charge was a year old.
Weapons charges also differ -- felons in possession of a firearm are generally more serious than having a melee (i.e. billy club) weapon, Kent said.
Their classifications determine where they go in the jail or whether they're released, he said. Violent offenders take up most of the bed space, leaving little room for those lesser offenses.
Sentenced inmates, such as the three men sentenced on assault with a deadly weapon, may be let out early to make room for others classified as worse, Kent said.
Those three men were let out a week or two before their sentence ended, including a three-day reduction every sentenced inmate gets.
Five men suspected of different forms of domestic violence were released as well.
The jail notifies domestic-violence resource center
She said the jail provided 49 such notices in 2013.
Construction is expected to begin in 2016. The funds are part of the prison realignment program, which Kent and Rullman, among others, cite as a major cause of the rise in crime and drop in bed space.
Until then, the jail relies on alternative custody arrangements to reduce the burden, Kent said.
An average of 77 were on electronic monitoring, while 152 people each month were enrolled in the work-release program, according to the report.
Kent said among those who fail to appear for hearings, jail staff tries to put them before a judge to get a new court date before releasing them.
Getting them sentenced allows probation to begin working with them.
Crime watch's Rullman said it isn't that simple -- most businesses wouldn't hire an ex-con. Rehabilitation is important, but so is cracking down on street crime.
But he acknowledges, with the jail at capacity under court mandates, there's no obvious way to do that.
"That's much bigger than any of us realize," he said.
Barry said she has an idea.
"Change the courts," she said.
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