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Fresno county jail

The Fresno Bee

In 2011,  the U.S. Supreme Court ordered California to reduce its overcrowded prisons. Sweeping reforms called “realignment” shifted the responsibility for thousands of inmates to county jails. Since then, there’s been a sharp rise in jail inmate deaths, most notably in Fresno County.  I spoke with reporters Jason Pohl of the Sacramento Bee and Ryan Gabrielson of Propublica about their investigative series called Overcorrection. Jason Pohl starts by comparing the seven years before and after realignment.

It has been one year since the Fresno Sheriff’s Office began allowing Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents into the county jail to check for undocumented immigrants. Now, immigration advocates are calling for an end to the practice.

Rallying outside the county courthouse, a small group of advocates held signs reading “ICE out of Fresno”.

Luis Ojeda, who himself is living in the country without documentation, says the practice sows fear in the Hispanic community that leads to fewer people reporting crimes.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The Fresno County Sheriff's Office is making progress filling a backlog of vacant correctional officer positions at the county jail.

The office is expected to give a mid-year update to the Board of Supervisors Tuesday including their need to fill 39 open jobs. That's down from 66 openings just three months ago.

But Sheriff's spokesman Tony Botti says that number is only going to grow over time.

Diana Aguilera / Valley Public Radio

Immigrant advocates in Fresno say they’re fed up with a recent decision by the sheriff’s department to collaborate in new ways with Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE). As Valley Public Radio’s Diana Aguilera reports, activists are demanding a change. 

Just last week Sheriff Margaret Mims announced a new program that allows two ICE agents to be stationed inside the Fresno County Jail. Federal agents can now check if inmates are in the country legally and can look at their criminal history to determine whether they should be deported.