CDCR ANNOUNCES PLAN TO COMBAT COVID -19 INCLUDING THE EXPIDITED RELEASE OF INMATES
By Sean R. Francis, M.S.
President, Justice Solutions of America, Inc.
As the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation struggles to contain the spred of COVID-19 within their institutions they have, like many states, turned to releasing offenders who likely will pose no threat to public safety. Indeed, CDCR and California have been on the front lines in releasing inmates to the community when it can safely be accomplished.
As of March 31, 2020, CDCR has estimated that up to 3,500 inmates across the state would be eligible for expedited transition to parole. The latest release is of around 185 inmates from CDCR custody in Kern County. Officials said the department is preparing on-site multidisciplinary teams at each institution to expedite the pre-release coordination. Officials said review of potential expedited transition would first focus on those with less than 30 days to serve, then those with less than 60 days to serve. According to CDCR the returning individuals would be release to state parole or local probation supervision, or will discharge, depending on their individual sentence. https://www.turnto23.com/news/local-news/cdcr-to-expedite-release-of-185-county-inamtes-to-either-state-parole-or-county-probation
CDCR’s plan includes expediting the transition to parole for eligible inmates who have 60 days or less to serve on their sentences and are not currently serving time for a violent crime as defined by law, a sex offense, or domestic violence. Officials said this plan also includes making more use of the state’s private and public Community Correctional Facilities, as well maximizing open spaces in the prisons, such as gymnasiums, to increase capacity and inmate movement options. https://www.turnto23.com/news/local-news/cdcr-to-expedite-release-of-185-county-inamtes-to-either-state-parole-or-county-probation
In attempts to keep staff and inmates who will remain incarcerated safe CDCR has implemented an additional action plan which include several new measures. These new measures build on many others already taken to reduce the risk of COVID-19 to all who work and live in the state prison system. Those measures include:
o Mandatory verbal and temperature screenings for staff before they enter any institutions and other CDCR work sites
o Suspension of intake from county jails, projected to reduce the population by 3,000 within 30 days
o Suspension of visitation; inmates will get additional free phone calls to their loved ones, made available through a partnership with inmate telephone network provider Global Tel Link (GTL)
o Suspension of access by volunteers and rehabilitative program providers
o Suspension of inmate movement, other than for critical purposes
o Measures to support increased physical distancing, including reducing the number of inmates who use common spaces at the same time
o Reinforced commitment to hygiene both institutional and personal, including greater availability of soap and hand sanitizer.
o Developed comprehensive health care guidelines based on CDC and CDPH recommendations for correctional settings, which includes procedures for infection control, assessment, testing, treatment, proper use of PPE and quarantine/isolation. Deployed educational materials for staff on the new guidelines, including posters, quick reference pocket guides, webinars and websites.
o Modified the delivery of non-emergent health care procedures such as routine dentals cleanings to redirect supplies of PPE. Created a network among all state-managed facilities to redirect PPE as needed.
o Created handouts, posters and continually updated video messaging for the population about COVID-19 and what CDCR and CCHCS is doing to respond to the virus.
As of April 27th, 2020, there were 178 inmates who have tested positive for COVID-19 and one death.
May 1st, 2020