California Releasing Almost 18,000 Inmates — Including Convicted Murderer — in Virus Prison Break

This July 9, 2020, file photo shows a correctional officer closing the main gate at San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, Calif. California is giving more than 100,000 state inmates earlier release dates in its latest response to the pandemic, building on earlier steps that together could free nearly …
AP Photo/Eric Risberg

California prison officials said almost 18,000 inmates in state prisons are being released because of the coronavirus — an increase of 70 percent from earlier release estimates.

And details are surfacing about who these prisoners are, including a report issued by KTLA in Los Angeles:

Among those released last week was Terebea Williams, who served 19 years of an 84 years-to-life sentence for first-degree murder, carjacking and kidnapping.

She was deemed at high medical risk for the virus, though officials couldn’t say what put her in that category.

The Associated Press reported on concerns from police, probation officers, and others involved in the re-entry of prisoners into society that it could include “dangerous criminals who should stay locked up.”

The AP spoke to the sister of the man Williams killed.

“Why is an inmate’s rights more important than a victim’s?” Dena Love said to AP.

AP also spoke to other stakeholders:

The earlier releases also are causing consternation as probation officers and community organizations scramble to provide housing, transportation and other services for inmates who may pose a public health risk because several hundred have been paroled while still contagious.

“It has just been a total madhouse, quite frankly, and we’re doing this in the midst of a pandemic,” Karen McDaniel, the statewide transportation and services liaison between community groups and corrections officials, told the AP.

California Police Chiefs Association president Eric Nuñez acknowledged the dire situation in the state’s prisons, but said he is distressed that some inmates are being released “without a consideration for the larger impact on public safety.” He told AP that the chiefs want to work with prison officials on improving the decision-making process.

Officials said that some 8,000 inmates have been sickened by the virus and 51 have died. Almost 2,000 prison employees have been infected and eight have died, according to AP.

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