California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has said about 8,000 prisoners will be released to reduce the spread of the coronavirus in its crowded jails.
The inmates could be eligible for early release by the end of August — joining 10,000 prisoners already freed in similar initiatives since the start of the virus crisis.
The department’s secretary Ralph Diaz in a statement on Friday said;
These actions are taken to provide for the health and safety of the incarcerated population and staff.
The announcement, welcomed by prison reform advocates, follows a surge in COVID-19 cases in one of California’s oldest prisons, San Quentin.
On Tuesday, the State Governor Gavin Newsom said the outbreak there is a “deep area of focus and concern” after more than 1,000 inmates tested positive.
The San Quentin facility this week made up half of the active coronavirus cases in jails throughout the state, which has a total prison population of about 113,000, AFP reports.
Diaz stated that the prisoners to be freed, who include inmates from San Quentin, would be tested for COVID-19 within a week of their release.
California, the most populated US state with a population of around 40 million, has confirmed more than 300,000 coronavirus cases and over 6,800 deaths from the disease.
As at Saturday morning, America recorded 3,293,604 confirmed cases and 136,720 casualties.