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Authorities Releasing Hundreds Of Inmates To Comply With Statewide Order

A San Diego County Sheriff's Department vehicle is parked in this undated photo.
Alexander Nguyen
A San Diego County Sheriff's Department vehicle is parked in this undated photo.

Authorities Thursday will continue releasing inmates without bail in compliance with a state order to reduce prison populations in an effort to minimize the spread of COVID-19.

The San Diego County Sheriff's Department was expected to release approximately 400 inmates without bail Wednesday and Thursday, Sheriff Bill Gore said Wednesday.

Nearly 1,200 inmates incarcerated for nonviolent misdemeanors or with fewer than 60 days remaining on their sentences have been released early from county facilities, reducing the county inmate population from 5,600 to roughly 4,400.

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The new "Zero Bail" emergency order, adopted by the Judicial Council of California last week, stipulates that by 5 p.m. Wednesday, all inmates not charged with a serious or violent offense had to be released or be in the process of being released with no bail. Gore said Wednesday that he had 500 inmates fitting that description.

One caveat to the order is that if the prosecuting attorney seeks to increase an inmate's bail amount, they will remain incarcerated. Gore said this applied to around 100 inmates.

The sheriff expressed concerns with the sweeping scale of the order, claiming his facilities have done a "responsible job" reducing jail populations and preventing the spread of the virus. Some of his office's measures include "enhanced screenings" at county facilities and placing a temporary ban on visitors and contractors at the same facilities.

Gore said only three cases have been reported in county inmates, two of which have been released. The third inmate to contract the virus remains in custody.

San Diego County officials reported 82 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday along with seven additional deaths, raising the county's totals to 2,012 cases and 60 deaths.