SLO County Jail to grow by 140 inmates when prison diversion program begins

San Luis Obispo County Jail will add 140 inmates — nearly a quarter of its average daily population — when a new state prison diversion program starts Oct. 1.

Sheriff Ian Parkinson told an audience of several hundred people at today's Good Morning San Luis Obispo event that the jail averages 600 inmates in custody every day.

The additional 140 will result from a new sentencing program that will divert inmates from state prisons, where they have been incarcerated, to county jails.

Parkinson told the audience at the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting that he was among the 500 law officers who heard Gov. Brown speak about the program on Wednesday in Sacramento.

A key to making the program work, Parkinson indicated, is Brown's support for a state constitutional amendment that, if passed by voters, would provide the money to local jails to handle the increase in inmates.

Parkinson said a benefit of the effort is a renewed focus on rehabilitating the low-level criminals who will be involved. The local effort will involve several agencies, including the District Attorney's Office, probation, and county health services.

The diversion program is the result of a federal court order that California must reduce overcrowding in state prisons. Another goal is to save money to help California’s strapped budget.

The offenders who will be diverted will be people convicted for offenses such as drug and white-collar crimes.