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State cash for inmates could provide aid against Merced sheriff's layoffs

County officials are starting to get a clearer picture of how state funding passed down through an Assembly bill will affect local public safety layoffs.Assembly Bill 109 will allow the release of inmates who are not sex offenders or convicted of violent or other serious crimes.

The offenders released from state prison through the bill will become the responsibility of local law enforcement agencies, and there will be state money for those agencies to monitor those released.

Sheriff Mark Pazin said Thursday about $2.8 million of AB 109 funding will be distributed among the Sheriff’s Department, Probation Department and mental health services in the county. “The money as promised by Gov. Brown has come to fruition,” Pazin said.

He said he hopes to use the funds to stave off layoffs in his department. Thirty-four Sheriff’s Department employees — 19 correctional officers, five correctional sergeants, five system security operators and five deputies — received layoff notices Wednesday, according to deputy Tom MacKenzie, sheriff’s spokesman.The layoffs were included in the Merced County Board of Supervisors proposed budget in June in order to help close a $20 million deficit.

It isn’t clear which jobs will be saved, but Pazin said the state money will be spread amongthe entire officethroughout the department. “I always knew there would be financial resources,” he said. “We’re still in the embryonic stages of putting those financial resources toward the entire sheriff’s office.”

The money will go toward monitoring and incarcerating of inmates released from state prison, Pazin said, adding that electronic monitoring probably will be used as a more affordable method of keeping tabs on releasedthe inmates.

The inmates will be discharged incrementally starting in October.

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