Attorneys advocate for early release of inmates at high risk for COVID-19

Local News

FRESNO, Calif.(KGPE) — There have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the Fresno County Jail, but safety measures are being put in place.

Fresno County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Tony Botti says special measures have been put in place to limit the risk of the virus entering the jail.

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“We want the community to know that we take this very seriously, and we are keeping the jail very healthy considering the circumstances that we face,” Botti said.”When an officer drives in, they’ll be met with medical staff. That inmate will have their temperature taken, their vitals checked, any symptoms.”

Local attorney Kevin Rooney says the jail environment puts inmates at a higher risk of catching the virus, and then ultimately spreading it to staff and the rest of the community.

“It’s crowded, it’s extremely hard to keep it clean, there’s a lot of people in there in compromised situations, a lot of people have to come and go, staff, medical people,” said Rooney. “There’s just a lot of conditions for the introduction of the virus, and then once it’s in there, its spread.”

Rooney says older inmates with pre-existing health conditions who are in the high risk category should be released, as long as they don’t pose a danger to the public.

“That’s going to protect both them, and it’s going to protect the entire community. If those people get sick, they’re going to take up medical resources, and if they catch the disease, they’re going to spread it to other people, so it just makes sense to get them out,” said Rooney.

Botti says the sheriff’s office takes releases very seriously. He says they’re under a federal court order where they must release inmates when the jail population reaches a certain threshold, and they’re going to continue to abide by that.

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