Are Inmates Eligible for Early Release Due to COVID-19? Rahul Balaram, Santa Rosa Defense Attorney, Explains

Coronavirus
has had a lasting impact on the lives of everyone, including those involved
with the criminal justice system. In response to the pandemic, many courts and
prisons across the country are changing their policies regarding the handling
of existing inmates. Here, criminal defense attorney Rahul Balaram
discusses how California is granting early release to some of its inmates as a
way to reduce crowds and prevent the spread of the coronavirus throughout the
prison system.

On
an average day, California jails hold around 50,000 people while the state
prisons hold approximately 116,000. As the pandemic has taken hold across the
country, medical experts have identified that areas of the highest risk for
infection stem from institutional settings. After repeated outbreaks were
observed in nursing homes, experts are looking to find alternative solutions
for the large, dense populations held in jails and prisons.

In
one instance, there was a coronavirus outbreak at the prison at Terminal
Island. Seven hundred inmates tested positive for the virus, and eight died. At
another prison, in Lompoc, over nine hundred inmates tested positive, and at a
third prison, in Chino, 443 inmates tested positive, and five died.

While
many prisons across the state have implemented measures such as suspended
intake, suspended visitation, and reduced time in group areas, these measures
do not constitute adequate social distancing. Some prisons have tried to
request temporary access to empty federal buildings to spread out inmates;
however, it still has not been enough to slow the virus.

One strategy to combat this crowding is to grant inmates set to be released in the next 60 days an early release. In March alone, according to USA Crime statistics the state of California granted early release to 3,500 “non-violent” inmates. To qualify for this exception, inmates must not be serving time for violent crimes, a sex offense, or any type of domestic violence.

Additionally,
as part of this program, officials are looking to identify which inmates will
have homes and a support network upon their release. While releasing inmates
helps reduce the number of individuals and crowds within the prison network,
officials also understand that releasing inmates to the public who have nowhere
to go may worsen the pandemic. Individuals with no homes to return to may
become homeless or go to shelters, where they may pass the virus onto others
unknowingly. Inmates released into the care of family or friends can
self-quarantine and help prevent further spread of the virus.

About Rahul Balaram

Rahul Balaram is an experienced and dedicated
attorney that has represented hundreds of clients. Mr. Balaram takes pride in
ensuring his clients are aware of every aspect of their case and that their
interests are presented with dignity, compassion, and competence.

Rahul
opened the Balaram Law Office in Santa Rosa and is widely known
for his excellent trial skills, his unrelenting work on behalf of his clients,
and the outstanding results that his clients receive.