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California announces plan to release 8,000 inmates from prison this summer to reduce the spread of COVID-19


SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY, Calif. - The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) announced on Friday that they will implement a new plan to release up to 8,000 inmates this summer in an effort to reduce prison populations and slow the spread of COVID-19.

Prisoners eligible for early release are those who have less than one year left to serve on their sentence, are not currently serving time for domestic violence or a violent crime as defined by law, have no current or prior sentences that require them to register as a sex offender, and those who do not have an assessment score that indicates a high risk for violence.

Under this plan, the CDCR estimated that 4,800 people could be eligible for release by the end of July. A total of 8,000 may be eligible by the end of August.

San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow said that, because of the loose parameters outlined in this plan, it is very likely that many deemed eligible for early release will be career criminals and individuals with prior convictions for violent offenses, thus resulting in the release of violent offenders. 

Dow expressed his concerns with this new plan after its announcement on Friday. "I am very troubled that victims of crime and other law-abiding citizens who are doing everything they can to follow state and local directives in order to stay safe and healthy will now have to wonder if they will become the next victim of a career criminal who was released early from serving their prison sentence," said District Attorney Dan Dow. "Our compassion for prisoners cannot outweigh our compassion for victims of crime and law-abiding citizens."

However, California Governor Gavin Newsom expressed his approval of the plan.

Jay Jordan, Executive Director for Californians for Safety and Justice said, “We’re glad the Governor is taking action to release more people. 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. Supporting the health and safety of all Californians means releasing people unnecessarily incarcerated and transforming our justice system.”

The CDCR said all individuals eligible for early release will be tested for COVID-19 seven days before their release.

The CDCR is also working closely with stakeholders, local law enforcement partners and other agencies to acquire housing in the community for recently released individuals to help meet reentry needs.

More details about this new prison plan can be read on the CDCR website here.

Coronavirus / Crime / Health

Jessica Brest

Jessica Brest is a digital journalist and assignment editor at KEYT | KCOY | KKFX.