Long-Term Inmates, And Prison Culture, Move Into California's County Jails

09/09/2013 11:12 am ET

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Jerry Brown's plan approved two years ago to ease crowding in state prisons has left county jails struggling with hard-core felons sentenced to spend years, even decades, in facilities meant to hold criminals for no more than a year.

County sheriffs warn that these long-term inmates are more than they can handle. They say they pose security threats in their already-crowded lockups and invite the same costly class-action lawsuits over medical care and services that now dog state prisons.

"Our facilities were never constructed to manage an inmate for longer than a year," said Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern, president of the state sheriffs association, describing jails statewide.

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