California Governor To Release 8,000 People From Prisons Amid Coronavirus Outbreaks

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) is set to announce the release of some 8,000 people from prisons across the state as several prisons face deadly coronavirus outbreaks.

Officials will release some people through “expedited” paroles, and also let out some people who are at high health risk for severe complications from the virus, the San Francisco Chronicle first reported. The incarcerated people in question will get out over the next few weeks, according to the Mercury News. 

The governor’s announcement, expected later Friday, comes after repeated calls from activists and officials to release prisoners, particularly amid a rapidly worsening COVID-19 outbreak at San Quentin prison in the San Francisco Bay Area.

As of Friday, 1,335 of about 4,000 people incarcerated at San Quentin had active coronavirus cases, and seven had died. There have been 205 cases among staff. 

It is still unclear exactly how many of the people set to be released are from San Quentin. 

State Sen. Scott Wiener (D) called the announcement “a solid step,” but added that “more work remains.”

There are about 112,000 people in prisons across California. So far, the state has counted more than 2,300 confirmed coronavirus cases in its prisons. Five facilities have over 100 cases. 

Earlier this month, 20 inmates at San Quentin went on a hunger strike to protest the inhumane conditions they were facing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, including dirty, cramped cells.

There have been severe coronavirus outbreaks at other prisons and detention facilities across the U.S. 

The U.S. continues to lead the world with more than 3.1 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and over 133,000 dead from the virus so far. Some of the country’s worst outbreaks have been in crowded settings like nursing homes, meatpacking plants, Amazon warehouses and prisons.

California has seen a steady increase in coronavirus cases in recent weeks. In total, the state had recorded more than 296,000 confirmed cases and more than 6,700 deaths as of Thursday.

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