The Los Angeles Times is to be commended on its recent four-part series, "Jails and Justice." Daniel M. Weintraub, Glenn F. Bunting and Jim Schachter wrote an excellent series that depicted how overcrowding affects jails, the courts, the police and the public.
The County of San Diego has been diligent in exploring alternatives to incarceration. The San Diego County Sheriff, Probation Department, Department of Revenue and Recovery and the courts have instituted 29 pre- and post-trial programs. Even with these alternatives to incarceration, there continues to be a need for more jail beds.
This need is real! Police officers and deputies are frustrated when the criminals they arrest are quickly back on the streets because the sheriff has no room in the jails. The public is demanding tougher judges and stricter laws that increase the demand on these overcrowded facilities.
Lawsuits, similar to the one that forced a reduction in the population at the Downtown Jail, are threatened for the overcrowded East County, South County and Vista jails. This will force the courts and sheriff to allow even more accused criminals back on the street and require the early release of those serving time.