To fight the spread of COVID-19 infections in state prisons, Governor Newsom says certain inmates will be granted an early release through the end of August.
“He’s talking about releasing 8,000 inmates back into the community early, and this number is on top of 10,000 inmates that have been released since early march,” said Ron Miller, Riverside County’s Chief Probation Officer.
Chief Miller expects 500 parolees to be added to the county’s supervision in the next few weeks, and says one main issue is that their funding has been cut down to 2014 numbers.
“We are asking for funding. We’re trying to convey our needs with the state. And we’re also trying to make sure that we have the resources available to assist this group of clients coming into the community to be successful in that transition,” said Miller.
Despite financial issues, supporters of the effort say it will save lives.
“The only effective way to stop this looming crisis is a mass release, and it’s unconscionable to put peoples lives at risk simply because it’s the easy and seemingly safe thing to do,” said James King with the Ella Baker center for human rights.
However, some question the safety of early release.
Governor Newsom says only inmates with 180 days or less left on their sentence who aren’t serving for a violent crime are eligible, but members of the East P.A.C.T team, the task force that monitors parolees and probation in the Coachella Valley, say that isn’t always the case.
The task force supervisor says he has already dealt with early releases of previously violent offenders that were placed back in the community under prop 57.
I’ve found people who’ve had prior robberies, prior assaults, prior violent crimes but their very last crime they got convicted for, because of the realignment, makes them eligible, and it’s not supposed to be that way,” said Sgt. Corwin De Veas.
Now the county’s probation department and local P.A.C.T. teams will work together to handle the potential influx.
For more information on the amount of inmates with COVID-19, including the amount released to the community while active, you can find that information here.