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60+ jail inmates getting out with- out posting bail
get out free

Despite there being no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the San Joaquin County Jail, Sheriff Pat Withrow has been ordered by the State of California Judicial Emergency Council to comply with the statewide $0 bail schedule order that went into effect Monday.

The emergency order issued on April 6 was due to the risk of the coronavirus in crowded jails. The order applies to all misdemeanors and low-level felonies.

The order means more than 60 inmates in the county jail including homeless who have been the most problematic and have been accused of committing low level felonies will be released back in to communities struggling with the pandemic.

The inmates will sign a “promise to appear” at the time of their release. A new court date will be scheduled in the next 90 to 120 days. Among those being released could be those who have repeatedly ignored orders to appear before judges as long as they are charged with misdemeanors and low-level felonies.

Withrow has argued that given careful monitoring has kept the jail free of the coronavirus that releasing inmates back into the community that have an extremely high tendency to reoffend increases the likelihood they could pick up the virus and introduce it to the jail population of roughly 1,200 if they are re-arrested.

In a statement issued Monday evening the department stated; “This ruling risks public safety and jeopardizes public health. Releasing mentally ill or homeless individuals back into the community without proper planning and services may cause some to be unable or unwilling to comply with the stay at home order. The released individuals may commit new crimes or violate terms of release, thereby returning to custody after potentially being exposed to COVID-19, and introducing the virus into the jail. In short, this order may put at risk the extensive screening and other efforts we have taken to keep our jail free of this virus.”

Withrow argued “a more targeted approach with jail, facilities that have incurred COVID-19 cases” would have been more appropriate,”


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email