Around 18,000 California Prisoners Could Be Freed Early Due To COVID-19

The state of California is looking to release a total of 17,600 prisoners early in order to make room in crowded areas during the COVID-19 crisis.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has spoken to Fox News saying that

“in total, 8,032 [inmates] have had their releases expedited and overall, we have reduced the total incarcerated population by more than 18,300 since March as a result of suspension of county jail intake, the expedited releases” as well as those released in line with their sentences.

“We’re glad the governor is taking action to release more people,” Californians for Safety and Justice Executive Director Jay Johnson said in a statement made back in July. “This is absolutely critical for the health and safety of every Californian. Too many people are incarcerated for too long in facilities that spread poor health.”

In April, the first 3,500 criminals were let go in order to make room in crowded prisons and an additional 6,900 were declared eligible for release in early July, adding up to a total of 10,400 early releases.

Early releases could also include:

“700 eligible offenders who have less than one-year to serve who reside within identified institutions that house large populations of high-risk patients” and “approximately 6,500 persons identified by the court-appointed Federal Receiver as medically high-risk for complications should they contract COVID-19,” the CDRC stated.

That increases the number to 17,600 potential early releases.

“This is not a blanket release, the point-in-time numbers are just a step in the review process as the department works tirelessly to conduct these releases in a way that aligns public health and public safety,” they added.

In a filing with a federal judge a week ago, authorities increased the estimated number of released from 10,400 to 17,600.

Nevertheless, according to prison officials, Corrections Secretary Ralph Diaz will probably block the release fo around 5,500 people partly because many of them are serving life sentences.

Around 2,000 workers in the prison system have caught the coronavirus and 8 of them have passed away. The newest fatal case is that of Sergeant Seeyengkee Ly, who worked at Valley State Prison in Chowchilla and lost his life on August 2 from pneumonia complications after being struck by Covid-19.

Officials have been pressured by advocates, two judgges, and some state lawmakers to free more prisoners, and the demands have increased after a botched transfer of infected prisoners into San Quentin State Prison led to the state’s most ravaging outbreak. Close to 170 prisoners are carrying the virus while 23 have passed away, including 11 people on death row.

Over 2,000 people have either gotten better or were let go while still infected. 

Police departments across the U.S. have altered their activities due to the crisis – this includes arrests that require little contact and efforts to avoid prosecutions for those with petty crimes in order to prevent prison overcrowding.

More than 100,000 people from all over the country were prematurely freed from jail between March and June, a decrease of 8%, as per analysis made by The Marshall Project and The Associated Press.

New York, California, Ohio, and Texas are some of the first places that released older and ill inmates early, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Eric Nuñez, the head of California’s Police Chiefs Association said he is aware of the severity of the situation but is alarmed by the release of some violent criminals “without consideration for the larger impact on public safety.”

He said authorities wish to work with prisons on a better decision-making process.

Thus far there have been a couple of reported cases in which prisoners who were let go prematurely murdered two people in Denver and Tampa, Florida. 

Cities like Boston, La, New York, Detroit, among others, are urging officials to defund police departments or allocate funds previously given to police departments or other public services.

Meanwhile, Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore, Louisville, and Chicago have seen a steep increase in crime and shootings as a result of the civil unrest currently going on in the country. Among the 50 largest cities in the United States, killings have increased by 24% so far in 2020, totaling 3,612 cases, The Wall Street Journal reported.

“It’s no surprise that when politicians insist on releasing violent felons into our communities, emptying our jails, refusing to require bond for persons charged with crimes, and all the while calling for the defunding or abolition of police, that violent crime goes through the roof,” Bill Johnson, executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations shared with Fox News.

He went on saying:

“more violent offenders on the street plus reduced law enforcement equals death and destruction in our communities.”

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