Taft is feeling the impact from California's prison realignment more than any other city in Kern County.
Requests for prosecutions from law enforcement agencies on the Westside have nearly tripled from the first three months of 2013 compared to the same period in 2012, Kern County District Attorney Lisa Green said Wednesday.
The deputy district attorney assigned to the Taft court received 110 felony complaint requests from the Taft Police, Kern County Sheriff and California Highway Patrol, in January through March 2012, Green said.
In the same three months of 2013, the deputy D.A. here received 306 felony complaint requests, she said.
“They are up everywhere (in the county) ,” Green said. “I hate to say it, but its actually highest in Taft.”
That is a direct effect of the sweeping California prison reform mandated by AB 109 that took effect in late 2011.
It shifted responsibility for the incarceration and rehabilitation for thousands of convicted criminals from the state prison system to the jails in the 58 counties in the state.
It was the biggest change in the state's criminal justice system in decades, Green said, and it caught nearly everyone off guard.
There was no money and no strategy, she said.
“I don't think anyone had any idea how to deal with it,” Green said.
Kern County's jail system was already full when AB109 went into effect and now the state is sending hundreds more inmates to the county jail.
That means much shorter jail terms no matter what the sentence.
“You will probably do two to three months on a two-year sentence,” Green said.
The realignment means no state prison for a lot of crimes – most drug dealing convictions, commercial burglaries, auto theft and other property crimes, Green said