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County Board, CEO Look At Contracting With Private Correctional Facilities

AB 109 requires that non-violent, non-sexual offenders be housed in county jails instead of state prisons. At Tuesday's meeting, county CEO reported to the board on the possibility of contracting with public and private facilities to house offenders.

At the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors’ Tuesday meeting, County CEO William Fujioka reported on the county’s inability to contract with private community correctional facilities to house AB 109 offenders, following a request from Supervisor Michael Antonovich at the Dec. 17 meeting.

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Officials with the county departments of Probation, Mental Health, Public Health and the Sheriff gave a two-year report on Dec. 17, covering the results and methods used to comply with AB 109, which allows for non-violent, non-sexual offenders to be sentenced to county jails instead of state prisons.

Related Article: County Officials Report On AB 109 Results At County Board Meeting

During the report, Antonovich requested that Fujioka look into housing offenders in private prison facilities.

Based on current law, only the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has the authority to contract with private correctional facilities, Fujioka’s report said.

“Provisions of the law granted counties the authority to contract with publicly owned and operated CCFs to house inmates sentenced under the provisions of AB 109,” the report said. “…AB 109, however, did not grant authority for counties to contract with privately owned and operated CCFs… According to sources in Sacramento, the decision to exclude counties from contracting with private CCFs was primarily made as a result of concerns by the Administration and the Legislature that labor would oppose including such authority for counties.”

Previously, the county had begun the process of contracting with a public correctional facility in the city of Taft, but the agreement was never finalized.

“There was a legal dispute between Taft and the state,” said Anna Pembedjian, Antonovich’s justice deputy. “The county decided to walk away and withdraw contract with Taft.”

Pembedjian said that not allowing counties to contract with private facilities leaves them with few options, because there are not many public facilities available, and the state is already negotiating with some of them.

She also noted that Antonovich is concerned because of the pressure that overcrowding puts on county jails and law enforcement, especially if offenders only serve a portion of their sentence.

“He discussed that this affected officers in the field, Sheriff’s deputies and municipal police departments,” Pembedjian said.

Fujioka was instructed to report back to the board in 45 days, detailing county staff’s efforts to bring legislation before the state legislature that would allow counties to contract with private facilities.

To read Fujioka’s report provided to the board, click here.

More Information: Los Angeles County News

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County Board, CEO Look At Contracting With Private Correctional Facilities

Article: County Board, CEO Look At Contracting With Private Correctional Facilities
Source: Santa Clarita News
Author: Allison Pari