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Shasta County law enforcement concerned about early inmate release

About 17,000 inmates in California will be released to cut the spread of coronavirus. By the end of this month, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation expects to release about 8000 inmates.

Posted: Aug 6, 2020 7:05 PM
Updated: Aug 7, 2020 10:22 AM

SHASTA COUNTY, Calif. – About 17,000 inmates in California will be released to cut the spread of coronavirus. By the end of this month, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation expects to release about 8000 inmates.

But this move has law enforcement in Shasta County concerned.

RELATED: California ups early inmate release estimate and objections

“They're dumping a bunch of the prisoners out of the prisons and back into our communities,” said Chief Michael Johnson of the Anderson Police Department.

“We don’t have the jail capacity for it and we don’t have the resources for it.”

Johnson says he expects to see crime rise back up here in Shasta County.

“If you release a chronic burglar or a thief, who's non-violent by nature, back into your community it's going to have profound impacts,” said Johnson.

CDCR says inmates qualified for release include inmates who are serving either 180 to 365 days or less, those currently not serving time for domestic violence or violent crime, and are not registered as a sex offender.

In a statement, the department says "We take these decisions very seriously and remain steadfastly committed to working with our law enforcement and community-based partners to address their concerns and work through this public health emergency together."

The state gives counties a list of which inmates will be released. Not only is law enforcement concerned about prisoners being back out on the streets, but people also have their concerns.

“We need to stay on top of that and not call the police for every second,” said David Granberry of Redding.

“We need to keep our eyes open and assist [the police] and we need to think as a community.”

But others say if the prison cannot protect inmates from Covid-19, they should be released.

“We don't have enough space for everybody that's why the disease is spreading around them,” said Elias Batschon.

Chief Johnson says while he understands releasing prisoners is to help protect jail staff he does not agree with the decision because of the lack of jail space and resources in Shasta County.

CDCR says by reducing the prison population, this will help lessen the impacts for local hospitals who are caring for prison patients.

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