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California writes $602-million check for local jail construction

March 8, 2012 |  5:52 pm

L.A. County inmates at a church service
California will dish out $602 million for local jail construction in 11 counties, state officials announced  Thursday. The money is intended to help county facilities handle an influx of inmates, part of Gov. Jerry Brown’s realignment strategy to reduce chronic overcrowding at state prisons.

“This provides a major boost for California counties to house local inmates safely and effectively,” Matthew Cate, secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said in a statement.

Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties were awarded the most money: $100 million each. Twenty counties applied for the money.

The funding, provided through the sale of bonds, was approved by the Legislature last year. So far, $1.2 billion has been awarded to 22 counties.

California is trying to reduce its state prison population to 110,000 inmates by mid-2013 to comply with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the result of lawsuits saying prison conditions constituted cruel and unusual punishment. Right now there are roughly 131,200 inmates in state lockups.

Low-level offenders now remain in local jails instead of being sent to state prisons, and the state has promised to send more money to counties to help them deal with the influx.


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-- Chris Megerian in Sacramento

Twitter: @chrismegerian

Photo: Los Angeles County inmates at a church service in December. Credit: Arkasha Stevenson / Los Angeles Times