KERN COUNTY, Calif. — The Kern County Sheriff's Office and District Attorney's Office are continuing their initiative toward addressing homelessness in part by enforcing existing misdemeanor drug laws.
This would include jailing individuals for up to a year at Lerdo Detention Facility when they commit certain drug offenses, property crimes or theft.
The facility may jail offenders which means rehabilitation and drug treatment.
It's an initiative the Sheriff Donny Youngblood says will save Bakersfield from where it may be going, where business and homeowners are frustrated with property crimes and city parks become a hotbed for illegal activity.
"I do not want to become Seattle," said Youngblood. "I do not want to become Los Angeles where we have tent cities, with people with diseases."
Its a reality not so distant according to the Youngblood, but certain aspects of such a fate are already apparent in areas that the most vulnerable occupy. However, there are some who don't support the sheriff's and DA's plan to put homeless individuals behind bars for committing crimes.
"You have people who think this is a lack of compassion, but if you watch these peoples on the streets and where they're living and how they're living," argued Youngblood. "That isn't compassionate."
The sheriff said if they're able to get funding for those additional detention officers they can begin enforcing their plan within the next three to four months.