The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department announced yesterday that 71 inmates in the county jail system were released under new state guidelines that give inmates additional credit for good behavior. According to Sheriff’s spokesperson Drew Sugars, changes recently made to Section 4019 of the California Penal Code — which were enacted to reduce prison overcrowding in California’s state prisons and apply to inmates in county jail facilities — grant inmates with good behavior one half-day credit for each full day served, as opposed to one-third day credit.
The new state requirements do not apply to violent felons or registered sex offenders.
Yesterday, 22 inmates were released from the jail and another 49 in the jail’s Alternative Sentencing Program were taken off of electronic monitoring and the Sheriff’s Work Alternative Program (SWAP). Sugars indicated that by the end of this month, the County Jail will release a total of 128 inmates (50 from the jail and 78 from Alternative Sentencing). Before yesterday’s release, there were a total of 980 inmates in the jail system and an additional 200 inmates enrolled in the Alternative Sentencing program.
Said Sheriff Bill Brown in a press release, “These early releases hamper our ability to provide for the public’s safety. These convicted criminals who should be serving their sentences in jail will now be back on the streets with the potential to re-offend. The early releases undermine confidence in the criminal justice system by sending the wrong message to the criminal element.”