LOS ANGELES – A total of 700 adults have been released from Los Angeles County jails over the last two weeks under a collaboration between the courts and other law enforcement partners, the Superior Court’s presiding judge announced Monday.
“I am proud that justice partners in Los Angeles County were able to agree on release of low-risk individuals who have served nearly all of their jail sentence or are awaiting trial,” Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brazile said. “We are working together to promote public safety, social distancing in our jail and court systems, and proactive steps we can take to protect individuals from contracting COVID-19 in the nation’s largest criminal justice system.”
Those 700 people are part of more than 4,200 inmates released to limit the spread of the coronavirus, according to Sheriff Alex Villanueva.
Freeing up space in the jails has created more space to quarantine more than 600 inmates to prevent the spread of the virus from 11 inmates testing positive to date.
Sixteen orders signed by Supervising Criminal Judge Sam Ohta have served to:
— modify sentences for individuals with less than 60 days left to serve to zero; and
— release pre-trial defendants on their own recognizance.
Asked whether more inmates could qualify for release, Villanueva emphasized that the majority of those remaining behind bars were jailed for violent crimes.
“The 75% left behind, almost the overwhelming majority are violent offenses, and they do present a real and present danger to the community. They will remain behind bars,” the sheriff said.
He also pointed to Los Angeles County’s efforts to divert inmates from jails as the first moves nationwide and said work was ongoing.
“It’s a work in progress. We’re not there yet, but we’re getting there and we’ve made huge strides,” Villanueva said.