Lawmaker sees inmate exports as answer to county jail crowding
A state lawmaker thinks he has the answer to the problem of overcrowding at Los Angeles County jails: export inmates out of state.
Sen. Tony Strickland (R-Moorpark) has introduced legislation that would allow counties to negotiate with other states for the transfer of inmates to places where jails have space. He noted the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has contracted to transfer 9,300 inmates to prisons outside California.
Strickland said he wrote SB 983 in response to the death of Desiree Grajeda. The pregnant 17-year-old and her boyfriend were killed last summer in Pomona when their car was struck by a speeding vehicle driven by a woman who had been released the day before from Los Angeles County Jail.
The driver of the speeding car, who now faces murder charges, had been sentenced to 90 days in jail on July 29 on drug and weapon charges, but she was released on probation on July 31.
"If Los Angeles County had the opportunity to contract for the transfer of inmates to another state, this woman's life -– and the life of her unborn child -– could have been spared," Strickland said.
Los Angeles County sheriff's Lt. Wayne Bilowit said his agency is open to the possibility of being able to ship inmates to out-of-state jails as an "escape valve'' when crowding reaches critical points, but said the department is "not that thrilled'' by the Strickland bill because it would not give a county's sheriff a sufficient role in the decision, putting contract negotiations in the hands of boards of supervisors.
"It's important that the sheriff still be involved in it,'' Bilowit said.
-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento
Photo: Inmates at L.A. County's Men's Central Jail sit during an inspection. Credit: Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times