The new law implemented by Gov. Jerry Brown that will send low-level, nonviolent offenders to county jails instead of prison will ultimately lead to layoffs at the California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo. Exactly how many jobs will be cut is still unknown.
The law shifts the responsibility of incarcerating certain low-level offenders sentenced after Oct. 1 from the state prison system to county jails. The move — called realignment — will put an estimated 140 additional low-level inmates in San Luis Obispo County Jail at the end of the law’s implementation four years from now.
San Luis Obispo County is expected to receive 140 inmates upon full implementation of the plan. Of those, approximately 88 inmates will serve terms of three years or less and 52 inmates will serve more than three years, corrections spokeswoman Dana Toyama said.
Employees at the California Men’s Colony recently received a letter from the state asking them to verify their seniority — prompting concern that layoffs are imminent.
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There are existing plans to lay off 12.5 positions because of state budget shortfalls. Corrections spokesman Paul Verke did not identify the specific jobs being eliminated Friday, saying that the cuts are still being negotiated. Layoff notices are expected to go out in October.
The additional layoffs, expected because of the realignment plan, have not yet been quantified, he said.
“Staffing levels will need to coincide with population levels, so there will be additional layoffs,” Toyama said. “We don’t have specific numbers because we don’t yet know the impact realignment will have on the state prison system.”
Patrick Campbell, chapter president of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, said no clear timeline for layoffs has been presented.
Campbell added that because of the state’s budget issues, employee concerns are amplified.
“We are walking on pins and needles over everything,” Campbell said. “No one is quick to discount any rumor that happens right now.”
Toyama said the state’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation planned to ramp up its communications with employees to dispel the concerns.
“What is happening is unprecedented, and having never really been in this situation before, there is nothing to predicate what we are about to do,” Toyama said.
“The letter was just one step in communication, and more will come as information comes available,” she said.