SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The San Francisco Sheriff’s Department will let inmates cleared for release decide whether they want to leave jail at night or wait until morning to help ensure their safety, an official said.
By the end of October, county jail inmates will be able to waive their right to release for up to 16 hours under a new policy, Sheriff Vicki Hennessy told the San Francisco Examiner.
The change comes amid concern over the July death of a woman who died of an apparent drug overdose shortly after her overnight release by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department.
State Sen. Nancy Skinner, a Berkeley Democrat, has since introduced legislation that would require jails in California to offer inmates the opportunity to stay inside for up to 16 additional hours.
Public defender Brian Pearlman says releasing inmates at night, especially those who are homeless, can result in them reoffending because they have nowhere to go.
“Do your job and release the person within a reasonable time and at a reasonable time of day in the first place,” Pearlman said.
Hennessy said the process takes so long because arraignment court, where release is ordered, is not held until the afternoon. She also pointed to the fact that the court system still uses paper records.
Hennessy, however, said she has never known an inmate who wanted to stay in jail any longer than required.
“I don’t know that it really is going to be addressing a problem,” Hennessy said. “People want to get out the minute they can.”