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Humco Wants Daylight Jail Release

The county is backing a new State Assembly bill that would authorize county sheriffs to allow jail inmates to stay in jail long enough to be released during daylight hours.

The bill was one of many discussed by the Board of Supervisors at its March 18 meeting and of one a handful singled out for written lobbying.

County Administrative Officer Phillip Smith-Hanes said Senate Bill 833 – which sets a new standard for jail inmate discharges – attempts to address the locally-relevant issue of late night inmate releases.

Introduced by Southern California Senator Carol Liu, the bill would allow sheriffs flexibility on the timing of jail releases. If an inmate agrees, a jail stay could be extended by up to 16 hours to allow access to treatment centers and release during daylight hours.

It’s a proposal that emerged following the murder of a woman who had been released from a Los Angeles County jail at 12:37 a.m. It’s also aligned with recent concerns over the murder of Eureka Pastor Eric Freed, whose accused killer was released from county jail at 12:45 a.m.

Smith-Hanes alluded to the murder and community concerns but stopped short of describing the bill as a comprehensive solution.

“Yes, it is something that addresses a situation that has occurred recently in this community but in that particular case, whether it would have made any difference is an open question,” he said.

Supervisor Estelle Fennell said it would allow for flexibility and might help in some instances. Supervisors voted to send a letter of support for the bill to state legislators.

Also up for consideration was Assembly Bill 2184, sponsored by Assemblymember Wes Chesbro, which would provide restoration grants for properties damaged by marijuana grows. The bill wasn’t substantially discussed by supervisors because it reflects their ongoing lobbying for new ways of discouraging environmentally harmful grows.

A support letter was approved, however, for a bill that seeks to increase penalties for vandalism of broadband internet service cables. Sponsored by Chesbro and encouraged by the locally-based California Center for Rural Policy and the Suddenlink internet service company, the bill would increase penalties for cable-cutting mischief from $500 to up to $50,000.

The link between greenhouse gas reduction and farmland preservation is explored in Assembly Bill 1970, which supervisors also agreed to show written support for.

The bill gives counties a funding opportunity for their Williamson Act farmland preservation programs, which provide property tax breaks in exchange for keeping farm and ranch lands active.

Williamson Act programs have been struggling since the state cut reimbursements for the property tax losses. But AB1970 would provide grants for greenhouse gas emission reduction projects – including Williamson Act programs.

Smith-Hanes described the bill as “an attempt to link the Williamson Act and the carbon sequestration that occurs through those open spaces to the state’s policy goals around cap and trade and global warming solutions.”

Finally, a letter of support was approved for AB2393, which seeks to increase funding for abandoned vehicle abatements. They’re now funded through a one dollar fee added to vehicle registrations and the bill seeks to increase the registration fee to two dollars.

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