Election Section

Los Angeles sheriff releases 842 prisoners

Friday June 21, 2002

LOS ANGELES — Sheriff Lee Baca has released 842 jail inmates in the past week and plans to close two detention facilities because of overcrowding and looming budget cuts, the Sheriff’s Department said Thursday. 

Public safety will not be threatened by the releases, Capt. Ray Leyva said. 

“They’re not the hardcore offenders. They’re the nonviolent misdemeanor offenders,” Leyva said. 

All the prisoners released had served at least 70 percent of their sentences, Leyva said. 

The inmate releases and the July closures of Century Regional Detention Facility and the Biscailuz Recovery Center will save up to $20 million, Assistant Sheriff Dennis Dahlman said. 

Baca is in a budget battle with Los Angeles County supervisors. He contends they want a $100 million cut in the department’s $1.6 billion budget. 

Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke accused the sheriff of making “political cuts” that are “aimed at putting pressure on us.” 

Baca’s predecessor, Sherman Block, released about 3,000 inmates in March 1995 because of budget constraints.