Watch CBS News

203 Sacramento County Inmates Being Released Due To COVID Outbreak At Jails

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The Sacramento County Sheriff's Office says it will be releasing some inmates early to help mitigate the effects of a COVID outbreak at its jails.

On Thursday, Sacramento County officials announced they identified 76 positive COVID-19 cases at the Main Jail as well as 48 positive cases at the Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center (RCCC). As a result, the sheriff's office will release 74 inmates from the County Main Jail and 129 from RCC.

Jim O'Neill is one of the Sacramento County inmates who got the "get out of jail early" card from sheriff's office.

"They just said 'good news, you're going home!'" O'Neill said.

O'Neil had been sentenced to serve time in jail until March on a stolen property conviction.

The sheriff's office said the processes for identifying all the inmates who will be released could take several days. Those who are released early have been sentenced and are within 90 days of their original release date.

The sheriff's office responded to public safety concerns.

"When we look at the folks that we're going to release, we're looking at their history in totality. Obviously we don't have a crystal ball to see what somebody might do," Sgt. Rod Grassmann said.

Inmates excluded from the early release include those who have been convicted of domestic violence or other serious or violent felonies, DUI offenses, or offenses requiring registration. Also, those with domestic violence orders or restraining orders aren't included.

Those who have been violent in jail and those who are incarcerated often for public intoxication won't be considered as well.

"They're at least trying to do something but it seems like up until that, I mean, I don't know how they let that many people catch COVID," O'Neill said.

A backlog in the courts and at other state-run facilities to which inmates would he been transferred prior to the pandemic has led to overcrowding at County jails. Health officials say the large spike in cases is due to the highly-transmissible Omicron variant that has quickly spread across the US.

The county says the confirmed cases at the jail facilities are coming from intake quarantine, inmate workers, and close contact testing. Inmates at Sacramento County jail facilities are offered vaccinations, but they are not required. Contact tracing is now underway, county officials say.

"Quarantine protocols are in place and extensive testing is being done," said Dr. Olivia Kasirye in a statement.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.