Los Angeles, C.A. – On Tuesday, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva announced that 1,700 inmates were released from their confines. The inmates were released due to the coronavirus outbreak. According to the information, this is approximately 10% of the inmate population for Los Angeles County.
During his press conference, the Sheriff states that not one single inmate has tested positive for COVID-19 to this point. Yet, the release was made to help slow the spread of coronavirus. He continued in his remarks that an additional 4500 could be released due to their being homeless. This would cut the population of the prison from approximately 15,000 to under 10,000 through the two measures.
Los Angeles is not the only area that is releasing inmates amid the coronavirus outbreak. New York City is also prepping to release inmates to help with outbreak concerns. NYC has had an outbreak amid its jail system, unlike California. New York City has become the epicenter in the United States with nearly 16,000 cases in the city.
Other states, like New Jersey, have made plans for releasing inmates. Up to 1,000 inmates will be released as part of the plan signed by New Jersey Chief Justice Stuart Rabner. He cited profound risk of exposure for those confined in detention centers as the reason for the release.
The moves regarding inmates comes amid a push from Democrats to take action in the prison system. Recently, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) had asked that low-risk federal prisoners. Other congressional leaders have spoke out in support of similar measures. So far, the US Justice Department has made no moves to release prisoners.
Democrats have long been arguing for jail reform. Specifically, Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) has called for jail reform and sees coronavirus as a way to accomplish this. She wants to commute sentences and exact clemency on many across the nation in jails and prisons. Other’s, such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) have called for abolition of the prison system.
While a complete abolishing of the prison system will not happen, release of inmates is happening. Is Los Angeles acting too soon without any cases? Will the local law enforcement continue to monitor these individuals for any issues upon release? It will be interesting to see how these are handled going forward.
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