The diversion of state prisoners to county supervision has changed the culture in Sonoma County’s jail, making it more violent, while forcing the early release of petty criminals, Sheriff Steve Freitas said Wednesday.
Attacks on correctional deputies have increased 72 percent since the dramatic shift was instituted 12 months ago and fights between inmates are increasing, he said. However, he said he could not immediately provide specific data on the specific numbers of such incidents.
At the same time, the influx of more serious felons serving longer sentences has required the jail to release those convicted of lesser offenses on electronic home confinement, Freitas said.
Over nine months ending in September, the jail released 231 people eligible for detention alternatives who were serving time for such offenses as drunken driving, drug use and theft, Freitas said.
For more than three decades, a small program operating off Highway 12 in the Valley of the Moon has made a big bet on some of Sonoma County’s most troubled girls. It has used gardening projects, a Girl Scout troop, art workshops, job training and even yoga classes — at a cost of up to $1.6 million a year — to provide round-the-clock, court-ordered supervision to hundreds of teenage girls, many of them with multiple arrests for drug and gang activity, theft and other crimes.