Inmate Release: What does this mean for Kern County?

Photo from wired.com
Inmates in line for COVID testing.

By Julie Giyer
Kern Valley Sun

Following up to a recent past article on the release of inmates from California State Prisons, the concern has only seemed to grow. Hundreds of prisoners have already been released and hundreds more to follow. Within the next couple of weeks, an estimated 600 prisoners are set to be released, 180 of them to Kern County.

According to Prop 57, which was approved in 2016, non-violent criminals are considered as ADW – deadly weapon & force likely, battery with serious bodily injury, a solicitation to commit murder, domestic violence, inflicting corporal injury on a child, first-degree burglary, rape/sodomy/oral copulation of unconscious person or by use of date rape drugs, human trafficking involving a minor, hate crimes, arson of forest land causing physical injury, assault w/ deadly weapon on a peace officer, active participation in a street gang, and exploding destructive device w/ intent to cause injury.

Full facts about Prop 57 can be found at https://www.laadda.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Facts-About-Prop-57-Detailed-Analysis.pdf, provided by the Association of Deputy District Attorneys.

The Department of Corrections has also stated that every prisoner will have their sentence reduced by three months. This includes 108,000 people in state prison systems. Inmates have also been given increased credit-earning opportunities for a quicker release.

In March, Governor Newsom issued an Executive Order suspending the intake of new inmates into California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) facilities for 30 days subject to one further 30-day extension as needed in order to protect the health, safety, and welfare of inmates and staff. Secretary for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Ralph Diaz extended the suspension until the end of July. “These actions are taken to provide for the health and safety of the incarcerated population and staff,” CDCR Secretary Ralph Diaz said. “We aim to implement these decompression measures in a way that aligns both public health and public safety.”

Actions are taken to provide safety to inmates and staff, yet, how do these actions guarantee the safety of the communities in which the inmates are released in to? The California State Prison population is the lowest is has ever been in 30 years, as of July 30, in-prison population is around 99,929.
So what does this mean for communities where inmates will be released and for California in general? With law enforcement already doing the minimum, it’s a huge concern.

There is already vastly growing crime rates since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which poses the question of how much more crime will increase in the coming months. With high amounts of burglary, vandalism, drug and weapon possessions, and more it has made many wonder if those being arrested for these crimes will just in turn be released since these offenses are considered minor crimes.

Sheriff Donny Youngblood shares his concern with the Kern Valley Sun “I cannot see writing a citation to people for not wearing a mask when hundreds of prisoners are being released,” Youngblood said, “it makes no sense to me.” Youngblood mentions that these non-violent criminals’ past violations are not being looked at. He believes “once an offender, always an offender.”