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Local officials weigh in on the release of California prison inmates to prevent spread of COVID-19

Posted at 6:52 PM, Jul 13, 2020

Thousands of inmates across the state could be eligible for early release in an effort to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in California prisons.

Around 8,000 California inmates could be eligible for early release.

Governor Gavin Newsom's decision comes after COVID-19 cases spread rapidly throughout the state's prison system.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown expressed his concerns in a statement Monday, stating, "The release of up to 8,000 state prison inmates will have an impact both on safety and public health on California counties. Santa Barbara County will be no exception."

Some residents agreed and said it wasn't the best idea for the surrounding counties.

“It's bringing it into the communities instead of being kept isolated in the prison. Now it's just like saying, go for it," said Santa Maria resident Jana Moore.

According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), these actions were taken to help keep inmates safe.

Those with less than a year left on their sentence and who have not committed a violent crime could be eligible for release.

"If they learned something in prison I say, why not? That is a bad place to be during the virus, I understand,” said Orcutt resident Joey Lebrun.

Local officials say they're were worried about what it could mean for victims.

San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow said, "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."

The CDCR said the inmates could be released as early as the end of August.

Victims of crime are encouraged to contact the CDCR to voice their concerns.

CDCR's Office of Victim & Survivor Rights & Services
Phone 1-877-256-6877