Another valley jail is closing it's doors on parole violators. The Merced County Sheriff's Office announced yesterday it will no longer book some parole violators because of overcrowding.
"The Merced County Jail System, along with the other 57 counties, were never meant to house long term inmates," says Merced County Sheriff Mark Pazin.
Too many inmates and not enough resources. The Merced County Jail's budget is set to house about 580 inmates. As of today, nearly 700 are behind bars.
Sheriff Pazin says, "It's unfortunate that we had to get to a point where we had to tell parole, not the local law enforcement agencies, that they would not be able to book their parolees. It is a state problem."
Instead of being locked up, some parole violators will now be locked out. The jail will no longer book violated parolees unless they are a sex offender or have a new criminal charge. Sheriff Mark Pazin says it was decision he was forced to make, and he's blaming State Assembly Bill 109.
"He sits over here, fat dumb and happy at the local facility before he has to go off to the big house, but we still have to have him behind our bars because of a very complex judicial system."
Lieutenant Bimley West with the Merced Police Department says the change is troubling.
Lt. West says, "If they're in violation of their parole, that's the continual violation that cannot be tolerated and they need not to be out here to victimize other people. So it prevents us and now it has strengthened the hands of these crooks to continue their crime string."
Sheriff Pazin ensures the jail will work with local law enforcement on a case-by-case basis, and if there's a serious violation, parolees will be booked.
"We will not jeopardize public safety. We're not gonna expose Merced County citizens to all these wild packs of dogs that are roaming the street, the two-legged ones."
Sheriff Pazin says the California Sheriff's Assciation is working on a legislative remedy to these problems that have been created by AB 109. There are no specifics on exactly what those remedies would be.
Merced's new jail policy will not apply to inmates already jailed for parole violations.