Earlier, we reported that Mono County Court sentenced Jack Colby of Mammoth Lakes to three years in “local prison” after he pleaded guilty to possession for sales of cocaine. Questions have come in about what “local prison” actually means. Mono District Attorney Tim Kendall explained that 2011 legislation changed the way some individuals convicted of felonies are incarcerated.
Kendall said that the law generally known as realignment reduced the number of individuals that can be sentenced to state prison. He said the law now places that burden on counties to house their own inmates. In the case of Jack Colby, he will spend his time in the Mono County Jail in Bridgeport. However, a prison commitment will show up on Colby’s criminal record and can be used as a prison enhancement if he should commit a new crime.
The DA said the law changed primarily because of the State’s financial crisis. The shift of prisoners to county jails also shifted the costs. Kendall said California reduced the number of inmates in state lockups to comply with federal court orders to reduce overcrowding in the State’s prisons.
Bottom line, according to the DA, counties now house the majority of their own felons. He said only very serious or violent felony offenders go to state prison. Kendall said those convicted of murder, serious assaults, sex crimes and a few others head to state prison. The DA said that most drug offenders stay in local county jails.
Another issue of public questions in the Colby case – what happens to possessions that are forfeited? Colby forfeited $20,000 cash and a Harley Davidson motorcycle. DA Kendall said that first an investigation must determine if the items were purchased with drug proceeds. With a conviction, the DA’s office then proceeds to liquidate these kinds of possessions. Kendall said that vehicles and residences are sold at auction.
All money received is distributed by Health and Safety Code. 24% goes to the State General Fund. 1%, to a private nonprofit organization for ethics training of prosecutors and law enforcement. 15% goes into a special fund for funding programs designed to combat drug abuse, gang activity and for public education. 10% goes to the District Attorney’s office for prosecution of drug cases. The remaining 50% is divided up between all law enforcement agencies to supplement their drug programs and operations.
Kendall said there is a full accounting and yearly audit by the State for all of these funds.