SAN JOSE (KCBS/AP) – A sweeping law takes effect Oct. 1, and it’s sure to have a dramatic impact on county jails throughout California.

Under Gov. Jerry Brown’s prison realignment plan, tens of thousands of lower-level criminals who otherwise would go to state prisons will instead be sentenced to county jails and rehabilitation programs if they are convicted after that date.

The shift does not apply to current inmates. But in the future, those who qualify for the alternative custody program may not even be in prison because they will serve sentences at the local level.

In Silicon Valley, that will translate into between 80 and 90 additional inmates per month at the Santa Clara County Jail.

“It’s going to be a big management challenge,” acknowledged Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith. “We will be getting a higher level prisoner who will be in a county jail. We’re going to look a little bit like a prison.”

KCBS’ Mike Colgan Reports:

The county will get $14 million from the state to house the additional prisoners.

“We will be hiring about 55 people, most of those will be deputies,” said Smith. “Some will be the professional staff that we need to support this function. There’s going to be a lot of additional work.”

Smith, who has been with the Sheriff’s Department for nearly 40 years, was confident that housing prisoners at the local level would help cut down on the recidivism rate.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)


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