California may release 8,000 more prisoners amid COVID-19 pandemic


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KRON) The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has announced new measures that would make an estimated 8,000 prisoners eligible for release by the end of August.

The new measures are part of ongoing efforts to reduce the prison population amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a press release from the CDCR the new action will “protect its most vulnerable population and staff from COVID-19 and allow prisons to maximize available space to implement physical distancing, isolation and quarantine efforts”.

The new measures come as California Governor Gavin Newsom faces increased pressure from advocates and lawmakers following an outbreak of COVID-19 at San Quentin State Prison.

According to the CDCR the state prison population has already been reduced by 10,000 inmates due to previous emergency actions to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Below is a breakdown of the new efforts and which inmates are eligible to be released. All prisoners will be tested for COVID-19 seven days before release.

180 Day Early Release

  • Have 180 days or less 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 under Penal Code 290
  • Not have an assessment score that indicates a high risk for violence

1-Year Early Release

CDCR is also reviewing for release incarcerated persons with 365 days or less to serve on their sentence, and who reside within identified institutions that house large populations of high-risk patients.

The institutions are: San Quentin State Prison (SQ), Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF), California Health Care Facility (CHCF), California Institution for Men (CIM), California Institution for Women (CIW), California Medical Facility (CMF), Folsom State Prison (FOL) and Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility (RJD).

  •  Have 365 days or less 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
  •  Not have an assessment indicating a high risk for violenc

Individuals who are 30 and over and who meet the eligibility criteria are immediately eligible for release. Those who meet these criteria and are age 29 or under will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis for release. CDCR will consider medical risk, case factors, and time served, among other factors, in determining whether to expedite release for those identified in this cohort.

High-Risk Medical Release

Individuals deemed “high risk” are considered to be at greater risk for morbidity and mortality should they contract COVID-19. They include people over age 65 who have chronic conditions, or those with respiratory illnesses such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

  • Deemed high risk for COVID-19 complications by CCHCS
  • Not serving LWOP or condemned
  •  Have an assessment indicating a low risk for violence
  • No high-risk sex offenders (HRSO)

12 Week Sentencing Credit

To recognize the impact on access to programs and credit earning during the COVID-19 pandemic, CDCR will award a one-time Positive Programming Credit (PPC) to all eligible incarcerated people.

This credit of 12 weeks will be awarded to help offset not only credits not earned due to program suspensions, but also to recognize the immense burden incarcerated people have shouldered through these unprecedented times.

In order to be eligible to receive this credit, an incarcerated individual must:

  • Currently incarcerated
  • Not be condemned to death or serving life without the possibility of parole
  • No serious rules violations between March 1 and July 5, 2020

CDCR estimates that nearly 108,000 people will be eligible for PPC. Of these, about 2,100 would advance to the point they are eligible for release between July and September.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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