Prison realignment responsible for ⅓ of local jail inmates

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SAN DIEGO — The state’s realignment of the corrections system, which directed more offenders to local custody instead of state prison, accounted for nearly ⅓ of inmates in local jails last year, according to a study released Wednesday by the San Diego Association of Governments.

Because of realignment, the inmate population in San Diego County’s detention facilities was older and included more males than four years earlier, when the program took effect.

SANDAG also found that the percentage of individuals requiring more secure housing, segregation and protective custody also increased. The number of bookings into jail fell, however, possibly because certain drug and property crimes are more often handled as misdemeanors instead of felonies, the regional planning agency reported.

Among the study’s findings:

31 percent of inmates in 2015 were in San Diego’s jails because of realignment;

nearly half the inmate population was aged 35 or older, while the percentage of youth 18-24 dropped six points to 17 percent;

male inmates went from 77 percent of the total jail population in 2011 to 85 percent last year;

only 5 percent of inmates could be housed at the lowest security level in 2015, compared to 17 percent four years prior; and

nearly 1,000 prisoners a month required protective custody or administrative segregation last year, compared to around 780 in 2011.

According to the SANDAG study, the number of average daily bookings dropped from 256 in 2011 to 226 in 2015, but the average daily population rose from 4,786 to 4,986.

The data also showed that five of the seven major detention facilities in the region operated at 90 percent capacity or more, with the George Bailey Detention Facility in the South Bay overcrowded at 106 percent.

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