|California Prison Reforms Linked To Jail Violence|
|By huffingtonpost.com - Don Thompson|
County jails that account for the vast majority of local inmates in California have seen a marked increase in violence since they began housing thousands of offenders who previously would have gone to state prisons.
Many of the 10 counties that account for 70 percent of California's total jail population have experienced a surge in the number of inmate fights and attacks on jail employees, according to assault records requested by The Associated Press.
The spike corresponds to a law championed by Gov. Jerry Brown in which lower-level offenders are sentenced to county jails instead of state prisons. Some jails have seen violence dip, but the trend is toward more assaults since the law took effect on Oct. 1, 2011.
Brown sought realignment of the state's penal system in response to federal court orders requiring the reduction of prison overcrowding as the main way of improving medical and mental health treatment for state inmates. But the change has shifted many of the same problems the state had experienced to local jails.
Nearly 2,000 more jail inmates were assaulted by other inmates in the first year after the realignment law took effect, up about one-third over the previous year, the figures compiled by the AP show. Attacks on jail employees increased by 165 during the same period.
A rise in the level of violence in jails was likely to be inevitable under the law because of the higher number of additional felons being sentenced to counties.
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