A six-time DUI offender who was sentenced to six years in prison is out after just 81 days behind bars. Israel Iglesias was released from jail early because of the state's realignment plan. It shifts the responsibility for some felons from the state to the county.
Israel Iglesias has been out of jail for a little more than a month. "It's a break I guess, and I'm taking full advantage of that," said Iglesias.
Iglesias is out thanks to Assembly Bill 109. The state realignment plan, which took effect in October, sends state parolees who violate their parole conditions to Lerdo Jail, allowing others to be released back to the streets under supervision.
"We try to save the beds for the most serious offenders. We find ourselves in that position. But, due to the volume of people who cycle through our facility it's a difficult task indeed," said Chief Deputy Kevin Zimmerman, Kern County Sheriff's Department.
Zimmerman oversees Lerdo Jail. He said Iglesias was released because he is considered a non-violent, non-serious, and non-sexual offender. As part of his release, he checks in with a parole agent and takes substance abuse classes.
"Since my 18th birthday I've been in and out of prison every single year for one thing or another and it never really was rehabilitation in prison. But, now it's like hey you can work toward this if you want to have that. See I never had that before," continued Iglesias.
Zimmerman calls it a virtual jail. "We have found a way to reduce recidivism and it's no secret that the bulk of these folks have substance abuse problems. So the Sheriff's Office finds itself in the new position to reduce those levels of recidivism. It's going to be better for the community, better for inmates," he said.
A check of the Kern County Superior Court website found Iglesias had 23 different criminal cases. In the past four years, Iglesias has been though a substance abuse program at least three times.
In December, he was arrested for his sixth DUI, sentenced to six years in prison, but only served 81 days.
"We have misdemeanor DUI people that are going to do more time than that," said Scott Spielman, Assistant District Attorney.
Spielman said it is the reality of the state's realignment plan. "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out if you have someone who is a criminal and they would normally be in prison, what do you think they will be doing? We want the 'hug a thug' rehab approach to punishment which should be punishment," he continued.