Longer stays in San Luis Obispo County Jail envisioned

Under the governor’s revised budget, some convicted felons might have to stay in County Jail for three years instead of one before going to state prisons, the county’s chief budget analyst said this week.

Assistant County Administrator Dan Buckshi stressed that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s reconfigured budget, released last week, is very much in flux, adding that specific information, especially numbers, are both vague and hard to come by.

Nonetheless, he told the Board of Supervisors, the county will feel the state budget cuts in many ways, including the possibility of jailing nonviolent felons longer.

Buckshi made his remarks about the state budget as he was laying out the county’s own budget for 2010-11. The proposed budget for the coming year is $442.7 million. Last year’s adopted budget was $467.7 million. The fiscal year covered by the budget begins July 1 and runs through June 30, 2011.

The county also expects financial problems in other areas triggered by wrangling over the budget in Sacramento between Schwarzenegger and Democrats in the Legislature. In-Home Supportive Services, for example, may face a 50 percent cut.

Supervisors set a public hearing on June 14 for budget deliberations. County budget hearings generally stretch over three days.

Chief Deputy Martin Basti of the Sheriff’s Department told The Tribune that the governor’s proposals could affect as many as 15,000 prisoners statewide. He said that at any given time there are 50 to 65 people in County Jail who would be affected by the governor’s proposal.

Basti said Schwarzenegger’s proposal does not include murderers or other violent felons, or sex offenders. Those who would stay in county jails longer are felons who have committed drug offenses, burglaries, petty theft and the like.

He said the change could lead to overcrowding, increased overtime and other problems, and would cost county taxpayers money.

Buckshi agreed. “Per the governor’s budget, it is estimated that counties would receive approximately $11,500 per inmate per year,” Buckshi wrote in an e-mail. “The state acknowledges that this does not come anywhere near to covering counties’ costs.

“We are still working on the potential impact locally, pending further details from the state,” Buckshi wrote.