Missteps by corrections officials handling releases from state prisons are fueling fears in some California counties that thousands of inmates eligible for early release will spread the coronavirus in their communities.
Across the state, county probation officials and others on the front lines of the release of as many as 8,000 inmates by the end of August have complained that prisoners were recently freed with little notice to local authorities and without appropriate transportation or quarantine housing — and in some cases, no clear indication they were virus-free.
County officials also have expressed alarm about potentially infected inmates who were released and allowed to ride on public transportation and mingle with the public.
“We have done everything we can to contain the virus, but they aren’t helping,” said Richard Egan, Lassen County administrative officer, referring to corrections officials he contends repeatedly “dumped” potentially contagious inmates there before establishing a quarantine regimen.
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