Budget problems hit Sheriff’s Department

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca warned he would close two jails and potentially release 4,000 inmates thanks to a $72 million budget gap in the department.  Baca also predicted a rise in crimes throughout the county as a result. Here’s a portion of the AP story that ran this morning:

“There’s no way around me cutting $71 million out of the budget that won’t affect having to close a jail or two,” Baca said. “To turn this battleship … I have to start cutting.”

Baca hasn’t finalized plans, but said he was looking at closing two of the county’s 10 jail facilities: the old central jail, which houses about 2,300 inmates; and part of another facility in Castaic in the north of the county that houses about 1,500 inmates. Violent offenders from the closed jails would be housed in other facilities.

Closing those facilities would eliminate positions for about 400 of the department’s 10,000 deputies and another 200 or so civilian jobs would be lost too. The job cuts would come primarily through a hiring freeze.

A likely consequence would be an increase in crime, especially property crimes.

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