As moderator of the Feb. 26 community discussion regarding the Eureka jail's nighttime release policy I would like to suggest a course of action the community could immediately implement to enhance resolution of this issue.
As quoted in the Journal ("Free to Go," March 6), Sheriff Mike Downey repeatedly voiced his concern regarding the legality and practicality of holding inmates until daylight business hours. He mentioned that a previous attempt at changing state law (SB 153 proposed in February 2009 by Senator Carol Liu) had failed.
On Jan. 6, of this year Senator Liu introduced a refined bill, SB 833, once again addressing late-night jail release. It would delete the section of the current Penal Code which states:
"The Sheriff may discharge any prisoner from the county jail at such time on the last day such prisoner may be confined as the sheriff shall consider to be in the best interests of the prisoner."
And replace it with:
"(a) Upon completion of a sentence served by a prisoner or the release of a prisoner ordered by the court to be effected the same day... the sheriff may offer a voluntary program to the prisoner that would allow that prisoner to stay in the custody facility for up to 16 additional hours or until normal business hours, whichever is shorter, in order to offer the prisoner the ability to be discharged to a treatment center or during daytime hours.
(b) This section does not prevent the early release of prisoners as otherwise allowed by law or allow jails to retain prisoners any longer than otherwise required by law without the prisoners' express written consent."
The bill is set for hearing by the Senate Public Safety Committee on March 25. Please write our state Senator Noreen Evans, 710 E. Street #150, Eureka, CA 95501, or call her office 707-445-6508 and urge her to support this bill.
For the bill's full text:
Scott Sattler, Eureka