Early release rates soaring in L.A. County jail system; California recovery mostly benefits rich; Dodgers roll

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todaysnewsbanner2 Out of jail. The number of inmates getting out of jail early in L.A. County is way up this year. And that includes people convicted and violent and sex-related crimes.

The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department has released 26,000 inmates before their terms were up so far this year. That compares to 29,000 released early in all of 2012, and fewer than 16,000 the year before.

The data was revealed in documents obtained by the L.A. Times under the California Public Records Act. Sheriff’s officials say two factors are spurring the rise in early releases: the first is a budget crunch that has left the department without enough money to keep open some sections of the county jails; the second is an influx of inmates being shifted to county lockups as part of the realignment program, which is meant to reduce overcrowding in state prisons.

Under current policy, the sheriff’s department is immediately releasing male inmates sentenced to less than 90 days – and female inmates sentenced to less than 240 days. Meanwhile, some inmates convicted of sex-related or violent crimes are serving as little as 40 percent of their terms.

Supervisor Gloria Molina says Sheriff Lee Baca has failed to explain his rationale for deciding which inmates to release early. L.A. Times

Unbalanced recovery. A California think tank is out with its annual Labor Day Report. It says unemployed and low- and middle-income Californians are being left behind in the state’s economic recovery. The California Budget Project says the economic recovery is creating mostly low-paying service sector jobs, and not middle-income jobs like teachers or construction workers. The report says recent cuts in services to unemployed and low-income Californians are also contributing to income inequality. And the report predicts the state won’t reach the kind of employment levels we saw before the Great Recession for another two years. California Budget Project

Rim Fire. Crews trying to control that huge wildfire near Yosemite made big gains overnight. The Rim Fire is 60 percent contained this morning, up from 45 percent last night. And the area burned grew much more slowly. Still, firefighters don’t expect to have the blaze fully surrounded until September 20th. It’s now the fourth biggest wildfire in California history. Meanwhile, critics say Congress is partly to blame for the huge scope of the fire. A handful of proscribed burns approved by the Forest Service for the area where the Rim Fire has burned never took place because Congress didn’t provide the funding. AP, Reuters

Cable war. The running dispute between Time Warner Cable and CBS is going to become a matter of municipal business this week in Los Angeles. The fight has led to the blackout of CBS channels in more than one million L.A. households. Tomorrow, the L.A. City Council will consider a resolution on the conflict between the cable giant and the network. If passed, the resolution would ask the Federal Communications Commission to intervene in the stand-off. The two companies are arguing over how much Time Warner Cable should pay to retransmit local CBS broadcasts. The dispute has affected about three million homes nationwide. L.A. Times

California vets.
California’s Department of Veteran Affairs is too slow to improve services and is not doing a good enough job getting the state’s veterans the help they need. Those are among the findings in a critical new report by California’s Little Hoover Commission. The 13-member panel appointed by the governor and the Legislature does not have enforcement powers, but its recommendations carry substantial influence among state policymakers. California has nearly two million veterans and officials anticipate that about 35,000 more vets will return to the state each year as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down. CalVet Secretary Peter Gravett says the department is committed to making the changes necessary to give vets all the assistance they’ve earned. U-T San Diego

Dodger surge. The L.A. Dodgers appear to be closing in on their first division crown since 2009. The Dodgers beat the San Diego Padres 2-1 yesterday to sweep the teams’ three-game series. The Dodgers head into today’s game with the Colorado Rockies leading the National League West by a season high 11-and-a-half games, with just 26 games to go. Rookie sensation Yasiel Puig hit a game-winning homerun yesterday, and ace pitcher Zack Grienke improved his record to 14-3. The Dodgers have won their first two games in September after going 23-6 in August – their most wins in any month since 1958. ESPN