In an effort to contain the recent surge in coronavirus cases, Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to release approximately 8,000 inmates across California's prison system.
According to the Mercury News, the Democratic lawmaker will announce the move Friday afternoon in wake of the massive COVID-19 outbreaks at a number of correctional facilities. It was recently reported that San Quentin prison had over 1,300 confirmed infections among its inmates and staff—that's more than half of the state's active coronavirus prison cases. As of Friday afternoon, six of the reported infected prisoners have died.
The devastating outbreak has prompted activists and officials to pressure Gov. Newsom to clear additional space within the prisons, where social distancing measures are difficult to implement. Alameda County Chief Public Defender Brendon Woods, a major prisoner rights advocate, is among those who have called for the immediate release of additional inmates in California.
"There are over 60,000 who by CDCR's (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation) own standards are low risk, release them all today," he said during a Thursday news conference in front of San Quentin. "You can’t do it three months from now. You have to do it now."
Mercury News reports the releases will take place over the next several weeks, with low-level offenders getting priority. California previously released about 3,500 prisoners back in April, weeks after Newsom implemented a stay-at-home order.