"It does concern me. I have three young children," says Katey Ulrich. Cohasset Resident Peter Grout says, "I don't like it. Concerned especially for my kid, and safety.."
Butte County residents are concerned about the changes going on right in their back yard. AB 109, the law that will transfer nonviolent felons from the state prison system to the jurisdiction of counties, goes into effect October 1st.
And while the thought of an additional 200 inmates in Butte County may make county residents worried about their safety, Undersheriff Kory Honea, promises public safety will not be threatened. "I can assure you, the doors will not fly open and inmates will not be running out," he says.
Instead, the process is much slower. State inmates will be transferred a few at a time, beginning with just 20 the first month.. Right alongside a growing staff, to handle the new inmates.
The state has promised Butte County 2.7 million dollars to fund this program the first fiscal year.. On top of that, they're requiring them to hire an additional 32 members to their team, to accommodate the extra 270 inmates."
Undersheriff Honea says, "As our population begins to exceed our bed space, we will go through an evaluation process with each one of those inmates." They will be given a risk assessment to determine whether they can be safely released into the community, on an alternative custody program.
Which means, instead of staying behind bars, these non-violent, non-serious, non-sex offenders, will be required to wear ankle bracelets and attend programs that directly address their crimes.
A plan one Chico resident fully supports. Charles Withuhn from Chico says, "We've got too many people in jail.. It's becoming an industry.."
County authorities are confident the community will see that their strategy will make safety a top priority all while staying within the budget. Honea says, "We feel like we've come up with a plan that addresses the public safety issues, stays within the budget that were given and hopefully reduce the recidivism rate that we've experienced."