Los Angeles County has released 1,700 inmates from its jails amid fears that coronavirus could run rampant behind bars.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva announced the startling figures Tuesday, as several prisoners were pictured collecting their belongings and leaving one of the county’s facilities.
A number of the inmates looked delighted by their first taste of freedom, brandishing large smiles as they headed out into the wider world.
Villanueva confirmed that all of the 1,700 inmates who have been granted early release were due to be set free in less than 30 days.
He also clarified that they were all convicted of nonviolent misdemeanors, according to Los Angeles Daily News.
The LA County prison system has around 17,000 inmates, meaning that 10% of its entire population has now been released.
Los Angeles County has released 1,700 inmates from its jails amid fears that coronavirus could run rampant behind bars. One inmate is seen walking to freedom Wednesday
A number of the inmates looked delighted by their first taste of freedom, brandishing large smiles as they headed out into the wider world
All prisoners who have been released were already due to be set free within the next 30 days
More prisoners are set to be released in the coming days, but Villanueva says the rates will begin to slow.
‘There won’t be any big amount,’ he stated, according to the LA Daily News.
‘All the low-hanging fruit, we’ve already picked it.’
There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 inside any Los Angeles county jails, and officers have been making fewer arrests in the hopes of inadvertently introducing a new prisoner into the system who could be carrying the highly-contagious virus.
As of Thursday afternoon, there are 799 confirmed cases of coronavirus in LA County, and 13 people have died in relation to the disease.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles Police Department made 14% fewer arrests during the first 15 days of March compared with the same period last year.
More prisoners are set to be released in the coming days, but Villanueva says the rates will begin to slow
A man is pictured picking up his possessions as he walks free from an LA County Jail Wednesday
Sheriff Alex Villanueva announced the startling figures Tuesday
Meanwhile, 30% of the LA County prison system is homeless, and Villanueva told the Los Angeles Daily News that his department was ‘working to ensure they don’t inadvertently release an inmate with the virus’.
‘We have a plan of transferring sick inmates from our custody to the (L.A. County) Department of Public Health. Those protocols are well established,’ he stated.
It comes as many counties across the country fear a deadly coronavirus outbreak could sweep through their prison systems.
The Twin Towers Correctional Facility, also referred to in the media as Twin Towers Jail, is one of the prisons in LA County. The county has around 17,000 prisoners
New York’s notorious Riker’s Island Prison has 52 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein is one of the prisoners who has tested positive to the disease.
In a bid to stop further spread, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday that around 300 prisoners from Rikers will be released.
‘Some have many months [of their sentence left], some have only a few months, some have only weeks, but I’m going to treat this category across the board,’ he stated.
De Blasio says he is working with other New York state officials to release around 800 other prisoners from separate jails.
New York’s notorious Riker’s Island has 52 confirmed cases of COVID-19 (pictured)