More CA Prison Inmates Released Early Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

CALIFORNIA — Amid coronavirus outbreaks at several state prisons, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced Tuesday that non-violent inmates with 180 days or less to serve on their sentences are eligible for supervised release starting July 1.

Inmates convicted of domestic violence, those serving time for other violent or serious crimes, and sex offenders are excluded from early release, according to the CDCR.

The "community supervision program" is being implemented "in order to amplify actions to protect staff and inmates at the state’s prisons from the spread of COVID-19," the CDCR announced.

Riverside County is home to the state prison with the largest number of active COVID-19 cases among inmates. Chuckawalla Valley State Prison in Blythe has 989 infections and one death, according to Tuesday's figures. The California Institute for Men in Chino (San Bernardino County) has the second highest number of active infections, with 483. The facility also reports 15 deaths — the highest in the state.

Before being released into the community, an inmate must have a place to stay, and will remain "under close supervision for the duration of their sentence, up to 180 days," according to the CDCR.

Inmates can be remanded back to prison for any reason to serve the remainder of their sentences, the CDCR said.

Tuesday's announcement follows an April 6 decision by the state's Judicial Council that mandated $0 bail for misdemeanors and lower-level felonies in an effort to reduce jail populations amid COVID-19.

Also in April, the state expedited parole of approximately 3,500 inmates.

Such measures have seen the state's prison population drop by more than 8,000 since mid-March, according to the CDCR.

The state said it's offering COVID-19 tests to all soon-to-be released inmates.

"Before an incarcerated person is released from any institution, they will be offered testing for COVID-19 within seven days of their anticipated release. For those who test positive, CDCR will work with state and local public health and law enforcement officials to find housing where the incarcerated person can be safely isolated and monitored," according to the CDCR. "They will also be released with five reusable cloth barrier masks provided by the department with appropriate precautionary measures taken during transportation."

This article originally appeared on the Banning-Beaumont Patch