The Los Angeles DUI Law Blog

Jail Overcrowding Means No Room For DUI Offenders

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Many jail inmates in Los Angeles are being released early, only it's not because of good behavior. The Los Angeles Times reports that many offenders incarcerated for non-violent crimes including check kiting, petty theft, and drunk driving will not serve their full sentence due to the county's budget problems.

Is check kiting where you attach a string and ... never mind.

Because the county cannot afford to expand its jail and because jail overcrowding is considered cruel and unusual punishment, officials are left with the decision to release inmates early as a tactic to balance the budget. After all, if you leave them in jail and punish them cruelly and unusually by packing them like sardines, ten to a cell, it's probably going to cost even more to defend the constitutional rights violation lawsuits.

However, the decision angers anti-drunk driving advocates in the community.

"It disturbs us greatly," Gail Butler, executive director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, told the Times. "We consider DUI to be a violent crime."

Of course, every interest group considers their chosen offenders to be the worst of the worst and least deserving of mercy, so take their opinion for what it's worth.

The Times reports that most women only serve 20 percent of their jail sentence. Up until last week, male inmates were serving at least 80 percent of their jail time, but recently the sheriff's department began freeing men who were sentenced for non-violent offenses after they served only 50 percent of their time.

Does anyone smell a constitutional issue with women getting out earlier than men? Color us offended at the gender discrepancy.

City officials and members of the sheriff's department hope that releasing criminals early from jail will just be short lived policy.

"Early release is a mockery of the justice system," Supervisor Mike Antonovich, a longtime critic of early releases, told the Times. "Criminals are sent to jail to serve time for a crime, not a merry-go-round ride back to the streets."

August 2012 Editor's Note: This blog post has been updated by William Peacock, Esq. to ensure relevancy of content and that law cited is current.

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