On Tuesday, the Kern County Sheriff’s Office increased its number of inmate releases at their Lerdo and Central Receiving facilities in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Angela Monroe, KCSO public information officer, said the decision came after talking to various officials throughout the state and cited similar moves taking place in Sacramento and Santa Clara counties.
KCSO released 108 inmates from its jail system, 38 of which were sent away in in an attempt to curtail the spread of COVID-19. The inmates released in response to virus concerns were determined by age, medical condition and the types of non-violent offenses they had committed, according to Monroe.
As of Thursday evening, Monroe said there are currently no cases of COVID-19 in the county jails.
“This will help ensure the public’s health and safety to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by removing sensitive populations from the detention facilities who are facing non-violent cases,” Monroe said.
The remaining 70 inmates were already scheduled to be released on Tuesday after either time served, own-recognizance, posted bail, or cite and release, according to Monroe.
On Tuesday, the Kern County Superior Court announced in a news release the postponement of certain cases after the emergency declarations in Kern County and the "imminent threat of the spread" of COVID-19.
Joseph Kinzel, spokesman for the Kern County District Attorney's Office, said the DA's office is aware of the decision and reiterated that serious and violent offenders will remain in jail.
KCSO said any of the 38 inmates that didn't meet the qualifications for expedited release would be released into an electronic monitoring program. Kinzel described the decision as a continuation of different alternatives for incarcerations KCSO has utilized throughout the years.
“I think it’s a necessary decision and we have all of the confidence in the world that the sheriff is making the best decision,” Kinzel said.