JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office says they are released 21 inmates early due to overpopulation concerns. The inmates will be released on Sunday.

The inmates were released as part of a jail population management plan which went into effect on Jan. 1 of this year.

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The Jefferson County Detention Facility (credit: CBS)

Officials says $5.5 million in budget cuts prompted the plan. The sheriff’s office also closed a floor of the jail to reduce staffing levels, as part of the directive.

The jail also now has a 1,148 bed capacity compared to a previous 1,392 capacity.

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Officials say the inmates who are released have served at least half of their sentence.

Sheriff Jeff Shrader says the early release “undermines the authority of the judges and the authority of the court. Releasing inmates early, before they have completed their full sentence, is also not the message we want to send to criminals. Unfortunately, it is the action we have to take to meet the budgetary constraints we are currently faced with, and to maintain a safe environment for those who are incarcerated and our employees who work in the jail.”

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