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LA District Attorney Urges Prosecutors To Reduce Jail Population During Coronavirus Pandemic

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) -- Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey announced Friday that she has instructed prosecutors to take steps to lower the number of people in local jails and area courthouses in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

"I have asked my attorneys to consider the health risks in every decision they make," Lacey said Friday. "I have directed them to consider ways to keep nonviolent felony and misdemeanor offenders out of our jails and courthouses during this pandemic."

Lacey said she is working closely with county and court officials to maintain public safety during the pandemic.

"We have a constitutional duty to serve the public by keeping the residents of L.A. County safe from violent crime, even during national emergencies," she said. "I want to thank the people in my office for their dedication and cooperation during these unprecedented times."

Measures being taken by the District Attorney's Office include:

-- Allowing nonviolent offenders, who do not pose a risk to the community, to remain outside the criminal justice system temporarily by delaying the filing of new cases and re-evaluating pretrial cases

-- Determining if defendants in approximately 2,000 pending cases can safely return to their communities while awaiting trial

-- Directing prosecutors not to request that defendants be returned to custody for probation or parole violations on nonviolent and non-serious crimes, unless the defendant has posed a danger to his or her community

-- Working with health officials to determine whether a defendant is considered to be at high risk of exposure to COVID-19 as a factor in setting bail or releasing the defendant

-- Advising prosecutors against objecting to court cases being postponed unless it is necessary to prevent a serious case from being dismissed

-- Asking prosecutors to temporarily suspend or extend pending due dates for completion of community service

Lacey said that no DA Office employees have tested positive for COVID-19. Still, the office is taking precautions and implementing alternate work schedules for its 2,200 employees, so attorneys and other staff members can work remotely when possible.

To read more about the DA's initiative, click here. For more coronavirus updates, click here.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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