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Will Gov. Jerry Brown save money and relieve prison overcrowding by overcrowding county jails?

Among the many ideas Gov. Jerry Brown apparently has to reduce California's colossal $25 billion-plus deficit, including reductions to state parks and libraries, is to pawn state prisoners off on county jails.

That may work in some counties, but it's hardly clear if LA is one of them.

While it's true, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, that LA County jails have seen a dip in the average number of daily guests - from 18,265 during the first three months of 2009 to 16,758 through the first three months of 2010 - that doesn't exactly mean there's room for truckloads of state convicts.

As recently as eight months ago the ACLU issued a report stating that overcrowding and unsanitary conditions plague the local jails, particularly the Los Angeles County Men's Central Jail.

Said Peter Eliasberg, managing attorney at the ACLU of Southern California, "At the root of the many problems plaguing this toxic facility is overcrowding, and the only solutions are to either reduce its population dramatically or close it."

So far, the LA County Sheriff's Department is keeping mum on the new governor's apparent plan.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Nicole Nishida tells LA Weekly that, "As far as Governor Brown's plan, we really don't have a comment yet because the plan hasn't really been formalized."

She said LA County Sheriff Leroy Baca was unavailable for comment, as he is out of town at the National Sheriff's Association Conference in Palm Desert.

With all the historic problems concerning overcrowding at the local jails, it's hard to imagine things would improve should the state ship part of its overflow down to LA County. Of course, the devil is in the details, so much like the sheriff's department, we'll all just have to wait and see what Gov. Brown has in mind.

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