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Sheriff Releases Inmates. Some Go Home, Others May Go Homeless

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L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva. (L.A. Sheriff's Department)
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Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said today that roughly 1,700 inmates have been released so far in reponse to concerns about the potential of COVID-19 to spread in the tight quarters of the jails. As of Tuesday afternoon, Villanueva said, there were zero positive COVID-19 cases within the jail system.

So where are the released inmates going?

In a virtual news conference, Villanueva estimated that about 30% of the county’s 15,000 inmates are homeless. It’s unclear how many of them are among those being released. Villanueva said:

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“For the homeless crowd, we’re definitely going to try and find a place for them, but we’re not going to keep [them] in jail because they don’t have a home.”

He stressed that inmates being released are not considered a threat to the community. Villanueva also said that the Emergency Operations Center was working to provide beds throughout the county for releasees who needed them.

Switching topics, Villanueva also told the press that law enforcement agencies have been getting complaints about businesses not adhering to the county’s social distancing requirements. Who's not playing by the rules? He said:

“Chief among them” are “gun shops, night clubs, bars and strip clubs. So we have fanned out and we are making sure that all of these businesses are complying.”

But he added that so far, businesses have been cooperating, and his department hasn’t had to issue citations.

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