FRESNO, California (KSEE) – The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office says hundreds of state imitates have been inside Fresno County Jail for months.
“They need to go, they need to go to state prison, do their time, and really serve their sentence,” said Sheriff Margaret Mims.
Before this week, 300 state inmates were in the county jail with no where to go.
“Once the COVID-18 pandemic hit, they basically shut the front doors,” said Mims.
Mims said some prison sentenced inmates never served their term in the state facilities.
Up until this week, around 20% of the jail’s population was made up of state inmates. Mims said the California Sheriff’s Association pushed for state officials to open the prisons for counties like Fresno that were low on jail beds.
“We had a great need to make bed space available for our local arrests,” said Mims.
The bed shortage is due to a crime spike within Fresno city limits. Mims said around 50 people are booked every day.
The state agreed, and 50 inmates were transported to Wasco State Prison on Thursday. An additional 50 state inmates will be transported Friday.
They weren’t sent to the facilities as a COVID-19 precaution for several months, meaning some timed out and were released in Fresno.
The 100 transported inmates had to test negative for COVID-19 in the last week and wear N95 masks.
“The good news is now they are able to hold the local arrestees instead of having that jail space taken by state inmates,” said Mims. “I think that is an important message for the community as well as law enforcement making arrests.”
As new inmates booked into the county will use rapid tests in hopes of preventing another COVID-19 outbreak.
The Sheriff said it is not clear if the state will continue to take inmates.