STOCKTON, CA - Judge Richard Guiliani of San Joaquin County said Monday it's the state's prison realignment process that leaves him with difficult choices each day.
"I'm not comfortable releasing anybody, but we can't go over 1,255. Somebody's gonna go," said Guiliani.
Realignment is how the state handles its prison overcrowding problems. People who violate their parole don't go back to state facilities as in the past. Now they stay local, and in San Joaquin County, that means a couple hundred people each day now take up local jail space.
"The choice is to keep them; people who haven't committed another crime, they're in on technical (parole) violations, and to release people who have committed crimes," said Guiliani.
A court order limits the number of people in the San Joaquin County jail system at 1255. That's why Guiliani has to decide each day who goes free and who stays behind bars.
He said parole violators know the system well enough to earn a quick trip back onto the streets. If they demand a full hearing before a judge, they stay in jail during that process. By accepting the maximum sentence, their stay will actually be much shorter.
"Everybody knows if they accept 150 days, that means they're out immediately, almost," said Guiliani.
His comments come a couple weeks after one of those violators, released after just three days, was quickly arrested for attempted murder. Raoul Leyva was given a sentence of 100 days for violating his parole, but went to the county jail and was soon free.