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CDCR Announces Additional Actions to Reduce Population and Maximize Space Systemwide to Address COVID-19
By California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
Published: 07/13/2020

SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) announced today additional actions to protect its most vulnerable population and staff from COVID-19, and to allow state prisons to maximize available space to implement physical distancing, isolation, and quarantine efforts. The department estimates 8,000 currently incarcerated persons could be eligible for release by end of August under these new measures, further decompressing facilities.

“We’re glad the Governor is taking action to release more people. This is absolutely critical for the health and safety of every Californian. Too many people are incarcerated for too long in facilities that spread poor health. Supporting the health and safety of all Californians means releasing people unnecessarily incarcerated and transforming our justice system.” Jay Jordan, Executive Director, Californians for Safety and Justice

CDCR’s previous pandemic emergency decompression efforts have reduced inmate populations systemwide by approximately 10,000, to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission within its facilities.

“These actions are taken to provide for the health and safety of the incarcerated population and staff,” CDCR Secretary Ralph Diaz said. “We aim to implement these decompression measures in a way that aligns both public health and public safety.”

Under release authority granted to the CDCR Secretary, which allows alternative confinement or release in any case in which an emergency endangering the lives of incarcerated persons has occurred or is imminent, CDCR is pursuing a series of cohorted release efforts.

Some categories of releases will require additional review for certain incarcerated persons, and some cohorts will be screened on a rolling basis. The department estimates, that through these new efforts an estimated 8,000 currently incarcerated persons will be eligible for release.

All individuals will be tested for COVID-19 within seven days of release. CDCR is working closely with stakeholders, local law enforcement partners, and other agencies to leverage state and federal resources for housing in the community to help meet the reentry needs of these individuals. For all those releasing under these efforts, CDCR is making victim notifications in accordance with all CDCR procedures and state law.

“The Anti-Recidivism Coalition is encouraged by the Governor’s response to the dramatic spread of COVID-19 through California’s prisons. During these difficult times, it is vital that we all work to protect this vulnerable population and treat them with the dignity and compassion they deserve.” Sam Lewis, Exec Director of Anti Recidivism Coalition.

"After witnessing the deadly effects of COVID-19 inside California's dangerously overcrowded prisons, Governor Newsom’s plan is the right decision to help protect the lives of people living and working inside prisons and in surrounding communities. In taking this important step, the Governor is following the universal advice of public health and medical experts. We applaud the Governor for working on two crucial fronts: getting the most vulnerable people out of harm's way and stemming the spread of COVID-19 inside prisons and neighboring communities.” -Anne Irwin, Director, Smart Justice California.


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