The transfer of 60 inmates from Monterey County's overcrowded jail to Santa Rita Jail in Dublin has ignited a protest from the ACLU, which claims the relocation is squashing yet another opportunity to help keep inmates from landing back behind bars.

Monterey's jail population surged in February to about 1,160 inmates in a facility designed for 824.

But the transfer to Alameda County is unnecessary, a waste of resources and will do nothing to improve public safety, Lillian Chen of the ACLU said.

It's a crutch that shields Monterey County from reforms that reduce recidivism or letting inmates out on pretrial release, Chen said. "This is an opportunity for counties to go in a different direction," she said.

The inmates being transferred to Santa Rita will be serving terms of three to eight years. They are offenders with no record of violent, serious or sexual crimes, according to the ACLU.

With room for 4,000, Santa Rita can easily absorb the 60-inmate transfer that could happen as early as this month. The county's jail population dropped by 494 inmates in the past year -- the largest decrease of any jail system in California, according to a Board of State and Community Corrections quarterly survey.

However, Alameda County Board of Supervisors recently gave Sheriff Greg Ahern $4 million in realignment money after he warned budget cuts could lead to state receivership if already insufficient staff-to-inmate numbers at Santa Rita and North County jails dropped any lower.


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Depending on their classification, the incoming inmates would have access to anti-recidivism services at Santa Rita that Monterey has no room to offer. But they will not receive supervision when they re-enter their home community, Chen said, calling it "another missed opportunity for rehabilitation."