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Hundreds of inmates have been released from San Mateo county jails in recent weeks

The San Mateo County Sheriff's Office is rapidly releasing inmates in county jails in order to minimize the risk of the coronavirus spreading to people who are incarcerated locally.

Between Feb. 29 and April 13, the sheriff's office released 382 inmates, lowering occupancy at the county's two correctional facilities to 39% of total capacity.

Inmates have been released in two phases, according to San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe. Initially, all prisoners who were within 60 days of completing the sentences they were serving were released.

Most inmates who are 65 and older have been released; those who have not are being monitored by medical staff, said Sheriff Carlos Bolanos in a recent update to the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors.

Those in custody were evaluated based on an inmate's risk to public safety, age and medical condition, as well as pregnancy, he said.

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More prisoners were released following an April 6 announcement from the California Judicial Council, which enacted a number of emergency rules, including setting bail at $0 for most misdemeanor and low-level felony crimes, allowing some court operations to be done remotely, suspending proceedings for evictions and prioritizing juvenile justice proceedings.

With only about four days to decide who gets out and who stays, the county ultimately released roughly 132 pre-conviction inmates, Wagstaffe said.

In addition, as of April 14, about 21 juvenile detainees had been released, leaving about 20 in custody, according to San Mateo County's Chief Probation Officer John Keene.

For those who are incarcerated, additional efforts are being taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Everyone who enters the jail is screened for symptoms, and all programs with outside personnel have been canceled. Nonessential contractors are also restricted from entering jails, Bolanos said. And a number of court operations are now being conducted over video.

Meanwhile, those in the county's probation department working with the newly released inmates are doing what they can to adapt to the "new normal," Keene said in an interview.

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So far, the probation department is continuing to check in with people on probation, including doing in-person visits wearing personal protective equipment.

One challenge of the mass releases is to make sure that public safety isn't being jeopardized, he said.

"I don't think it helps public safety to release people that may not necessarily be safe to do so," he said.

"At this point, we have not seen a huge spike in crime or anything of that nature," he said.

Public health directives state that released individuals must stay at home with their families, which may be keeping people from coming into contact with the justice system, he said.

In addition, they're monitoring particularly closely people who have histories of domestic or child abuse.

The county is "pretty well-positioned" to provide resources like mental and behavioral health services to the newly released inmates, Keene said.

But it's often the formerly incarcerated whose past records make it difficult to find housing and work even on a good day – let alone in the middle of a global pandemic and severe economic contraction. And those challenges to find work and housing are likely to get harder as the economy worsens.

Keene said that he's been working in law enforcement for 32 years and has seen several recessions.

The county support for those released from jail, like housing, educational opportunities and mental health services, are "going to be stretched tremendously going into this new reality," he said.

Some, such as people who are considered higher-risk for developing complications from COVID-19 will qualify for additional protections, such as temporary housing in hotel rooms, but many won't, he said.

"It was so sudden that I suspect the inmates were released with little to no assistance. That is why we expect we will get a good number of them back into the criminal justice system fairly quickly," Wagstaffe said in an email.

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Hundreds of inmates have been released from San Mateo county jails in recent weeks

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Thu, Apr 16, 2020, 11:31 am

The San Mateo County Sheriff's Office is rapidly releasing inmates in county jails in order to minimize the risk of the coronavirus spreading to people who are incarcerated locally.

Between Feb. 29 and April 13, the sheriff's office released 382 inmates, lowering occupancy at the county's two correctional facilities to 39% of total capacity.

Inmates have been released in two phases, according to San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe. Initially, all prisoners who were within 60 days of completing the sentences they were serving were released.

Most inmates who are 65 and older have been released; those who have not are being monitored by medical staff, said Sheriff Carlos Bolanos in a recent update to the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors.

Those in custody were evaluated based on an inmate's risk to public safety, age and medical condition, as well as pregnancy, he said.

More prisoners were released following an April 6 announcement from the California Judicial Council, which enacted a number of emergency rules, including setting bail at $0 for most misdemeanor and low-level felony crimes, allowing some court operations to be done remotely, suspending proceedings for evictions and prioritizing juvenile justice proceedings.

With only about four days to decide who gets out and who stays, the county ultimately released roughly 132 pre-conviction inmates, Wagstaffe said.

In addition, as of April 14, about 21 juvenile detainees had been released, leaving about 20 in custody, according to San Mateo County's Chief Probation Officer John Keene.

For those who are incarcerated, additional efforts are being taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Everyone who enters the jail is screened for symptoms, and all programs with outside personnel have been canceled. Nonessential contractors are also restricted from entering jails, Bolanos said. And a number of court operations are now being conducted over video.

Meanwhile, those in the county's probation department working with the newly released inmates are doing what they can to adapt to the "new normal," Keene said in an interview.

So far, the probation department is continuing to check in with people on probation, including doing in-person visits wearing personal protective equipment.

One challenge of the mass releases is to make sure that public safety isn't being jeopardized, he said.

"I don't think it helps public safety to release people that may not necessarily be safe to do so," he said.

"At this point, we have not seen a huge spike in crime or anything of that nature," he said.

Public health directives state that released individuals must stay at home with their families, which may be keeping people from coming into contact with the justice system, he said.

In addition, they're monitoring particularly closely people who have histories of domestic or child abuse.

The county is "pretty well-positioned" to provide resources like mental and behavioral health services to the newly released inmates, Keene said.

But it's often the formerly incarcerated whose past records make it difficult to find housing and work even on a good day – let alone in the middle of a global pandemic and severe economic contraction. And those challenges to find work and housing are likely to get harder as the economy worsens.

Keene said that he's been working in law enforcement for 32 years and has seen several recessions.

The county support for those released from jail, like housing, educational opportunities and mental health services, are "going to be stretched tremendously going into this new reality," he said.

Some, such as people who are considered higher-risk for developing complications from COVID-19 will qualify for additional protections, such as temporary housing in hotel rooms, but many won't, he said.

"It was so sudden that I suspect the inmates were released with little to no assistance. That is why we expect we will get a good number of them back into the criminal justice system fairly quickly," Wagstaffe said in an email.

Comments

Enuff
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 16, 2020 at 12:51 pm
Enuff, Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 16, 2020 at 12:51 pm
Downtowner
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 16, 2020 at 1:20 pm
Downtowner, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 16, 2020 at 1:20 pm

Bad move! There's already an increase in crimes against persons & property. Read Next Door for updates (thefts, car B&Es, a mugging of an old woman for her purse) we aren't getting from Bolanos or the PDs. All since the crooks are back on the street.


Observer
Atherton: other
on Apr 16, 2020 at 1:24 pm
Observer , Atherton: other
on Apr 16, 2020 at 1:24 pm

Yet you reported a gun crime in central portola valley during daylight hours yesterday. The public isn’t in danger?! Come on.


wildcat72
another community
on Apr 16, 2020 at 1:30 pm
wildcat72, another community
on Apr 16, 2020 at 1:30 pm

Police are instructed NOT to arrest anyone so how can they report there hasn’t been an uptick in crime?


Petri-Dish group quarters
Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres
on Apr 16, 2020 at 2:09 pm
Petri-Dish group quarters, Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres
on Apr 16, 2020 at 2:09 pm

Yeah, keep those non-violent offenders in the secure, overcrowded Petri-Dish, so our safety officers can get infected faster, bringing it home to their families.

Then their families can go to the same grocery stores as us.... yeah, all good. Great plan, folks.

Oh, my, it gets better: "all prisoners who were within 60 days of completing the sentences they were serving were released."

We should have kept them in the Petri-Dish for a few more weeks to insure infection and THEN release them county-wide. Far more effective!


RanchGal
Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 16, 2020 at 2:20 pm
RanchGal, Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 16, 2020 at 2:20 pm

Mr. Petri...
when you are the next victim you’ll be singing a different tune.
INSANITY to release them back into our area.


Petri-Dish group quarters
Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres
on Apr 16, 2020 at 2:41 pm
Petri-Dish group quarters, Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres
on Apr 16, 2020 at 2:41 pm

> INSANITY to release them back into our area.

Did you read the article? They *WILL* be released anyway. You prefer they are released in a couple weeks with greater risk of infection?

> "all prisoners who were within 60 days of completing the sentences they were serving were released."

So you think another couple weeks of jail will somehow teach them the "errors of their ways" and is worth the greater community health risk to all?

Ouch.


SMC resident
Portola Valley: Los Trancos Woods/Vista Verde
on Apr 16, 2020 at 5:06 pm
SMC resident, Portola Valley: Los Trancos Woods/Vista Verde
on Apr 16, 2020 at 5:06 pm

Armed robbery in PV on Tuesday!!! This is poor judgement.


Nope
Woodside: other
on Apr 16, 2020 at 5:18 pm
Nope, Woodside: other
on Apr 16, 2020 at 5:18 pm

Making room for all the hardworking contractors/gardeners or hikers!!!!


Cruel and unusual punishment
Portola Valley: Westridge
on Apr 16, 2020 at 6:05 pm
Cruel and unusual punishment, Portola Valley: Westridge
on Apr 16, 2020 at 6:05 pm

I bet no one answers the question posed above...

- you think another couple weeks of jail will somehow teach them the "errors of their ways" and is worth the greater community health risk to all?

I do not.


Mville
Atherton: West of Alameda
on Apr 16, 2020 at 6:25 pm
Mville, Atherton: West of Alameda
on Apr 16, 2020 at 6:25 pm

What about getting CCW permits??


Dirty Harry
Menlo Park: other
on Apr 16, 2020 at 6:50 pm
Dirty Harry, Menlo Park: other
on Apr 16, 2020 at 6:50 pm

What about that dude who stole the school bus and wrecked it? Probably $100k in taxpayer dollars down the tubes. That was a couple of weeks ago. Last weekend, apparently released from jail, he stole trucks from a private company and wrecked them. One damaged another taxpayer funded institution in Santa Clara County.

This idiot is a menace and should not have been let out of the jail. He's likely the most visible of a large group similar miscreants. Not unlike the coronavirus, we don't actually know the denominator of all the people who are threatening law abiding citizens.

This does not reflect well on our government which should have a core mission of protecting life and property. Instead, they protect their lives at the expense of everyone's property.

The bus/truck thief is only the start of what promises to be a spate of property and person crimes not only in San Mateo County but also the State.

This pandemic crisis will reset many aspects of society. Clearly one of major resets will be the progressive blindness to the risks of a no bail system of incarceration.


Truth be told
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Apr 16, 2020 at 8:13 pm
Truth be told, Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Apr 16, 2020 at 8:13 pm

Wow, you liberals really crack me up. Hey Petri, how about we house these non violent offenders at your place, or your rentals? Sound good?


former resident
Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Apr 17, 2020 at 2:06 pm
former resident, Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Apr 17, 2020 at 2:06 pm

I applaud the District Attorneys actions, and am saddened by the responses on this website.


Petri-Dish group quarters
Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres
on Apr 17, 2020 at 3:40 pm
Petri-Dish group quarters, Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres
on Apr 17, 2020 at 3:40 pm

- you think another couple weeks of jail... is worth the greater community health risk to all?

Crickets.


Truth be told
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Apr 17, 2020 at 5:55 pm
Truth be told, Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Apr 17, 2020 at 5:55 pm

Petri, are you willing to house these non violent offenders? Or in your rental units?

Crickets


Petri-Dish group quarters
Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres
on Apr 17, 2020 at 6:18 pm
Petri-Dish group quarters, Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres
on Apr 17, 2020 at 6:18 pm

Yes. They were getting out anyway. I've worked with a bunch of ex-offenders over the years. And *you* have supported a bunch of them through businesses you've frequented.

Now:

- you think another couple weeks of jail... is worth the greater community health risk to all?


Outsider
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 18, 2020 at 4:12 pm
Outsider , Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 18, 2020 at 4:12 pm

Do they also get rewarded with a stimulus check.


Petri-Dish group quarters
Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres
on Apr 18, 2020 at 4:38 pm
Petri-Dish group quarters, Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres
on Apr 18, 2020 at 4:38 pm

> Do they also get rewarded with a stimulus check.

Dunno. Will 1200 bucks really make much of a difference?

@outsider: where are you on: out of jail a couple weeks early ... is worth the greater community health risk to all?


Petri-Dish group quarters
Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres
on Apr 18, 2020 at 4:41 pm
Petri-Dish group quarters, Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres
on Apr 18, 2020 at 4:41 pm

...really make much of a difference?

I guess there's a moral hazard argument, such as those airlines and other corporations getting trillions in tax breaks, using it for stock buybacks to inflate stock prices and inflate CEO comp, and then being first in line for Trump Bear Market bailout money.

Gosh. 1200 bucks versus trillions.

Hmmm... tough call.


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