LA County Sheriff Releases Some Jail Inmates, Advises Against Buying A Gun Right Now
Several Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department employees have come into contact with people suffering from COVID-19, and they have gone into self isolation, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Monday at a press conference. However, none of those personnel have tested positive for the virus.
While dealing with the coronavirus, the department is reducing the jail population through early release to reduce the potential impact of the disease. Villanueva said that those in prison are a vulnerable population.
Over the past two weeks, the Sheriff's Department has reduced the jail population by about 617. The sheriff has ordered the release of people who had less than 30 days left on their sentences, and he's also directing local agencies to cite and release as many suspects as possible.
There are zero confirmed cases of the virus among the prison population at this time, out of 16,459 inmates. Nine inmates are in isolation housing, with 26 other inmates in quarantine.
You can watch the press conference here:
As law enforcement agencies cite and release more people, the average number of daily arrests has fallen from 300 countywide to 60 per day over this past weekend, Villanueva said.
In another move aimed at avoiding overcrowding, Villanueva said he has raised the aggregate bail amount required for booking. Previously, authorities could cite and release those with bail under $25,000. The sheriff said he has raised that minimum to $50,000.
The homeless population presents a large potential coronavirus threat due to sanitary conditions and resistance to seek medical aid, Villanueva said. The Sheriff's Department is currently reaching out to this community.
Villanueva recommended against buying a gun due to the coronavirus.
"Buying guns is a bad idea," Villanueva said. "Particularly, you have a lot of people now that are at home — normally, they're not. Cabin fever sets in, you've got a crowded environment, people at home — weapons are not a good mix."
Villanueva asked that people who have firearms at home make sure that they're locked properly.
There will be an increase in deputies at places like grocery stores and shopping centers, the sheriff. said.
While L.A. County buildings are being closed, all 23 Sheriff's Department stations will keep their lobbies open, he said. However, the public is asked to report less serious crimes by phone or online. If someone feels they have to come in person and they're experiencing symptoms such as a fever, Villanueva asked that they call first to give staff a heads up.
The sheriff said his department had to impose a quarantine within the jail system last year due to an outbreak of the mumps, which he said is potentially more infectious than COVID-19.
Villanueva said moving forward, his press briefings will be held using one press pool camera, rather than having reporters participate in person.
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