California will release up to 8,000 more prisoners to reduce the spread of the coronavirus in its crowded jails, according to authorities in the US state, one of the hardest hit by the pandemic.
The inmates could be eligible for early release by the end of August — joining 10,000 prisoners already freed in similar initiatives since the start of the virus crisis, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said.
“These actions are taken to provide for the health and safety of the incarcerated population and staff,” the department’s secretary Ralph Diaz said in a statement Friday.
The announcement, welcomed by prison reform advocates, follows a surge in COVID-19 cases in one of California’s oldest prisons, San Quentin.
State Governor Gavin Newsom on Tuesday said the outbreak there was a “deep area of focus and concern” after more than 1,000 inmates tested positive.
The San Quentin facility this week made up half of the active coronavirus cases in jails throughout the state, which has a total prison population of about 113,000.
Friday’s statement said the prisoners to be freed, who include inmates from San Quentin, would be tested for COVID-19 within a week of their release.
California, the most populated US state with a population of around 40 million, has confirmed more than 300,000 coronavirus cases and over 6,800 deaths from the disease.
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US COVID death toll projected to hit almost 300,000 by December
An influential novel coronavirus pandemic model now projects that deaths from the disease in the United States could hit almost 300,000 by the start of December.
NPR reports that researchers at the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation say that the United States is headed toward a grim fall in which COVID-19 deaths will nearly double from their current level of 160,000 in the next four months.
The only Texas prison reporting zero coronavirus cases is where inmates make soap. But that’s not what’s credited with protecting it.
Of more than 100 Texas prison units, the Roach Unit's apparent ability to avoid the virus has been attributed to a remote location and a warden who strictly enforces precautionary measures.
The only Texas prison that hasn’t had any staff or inmates test positive for the new coronavirus is the same one where inmates make soap and package hand sanitizer for the state’s lockups. Prisoners aren’t allowed to use the latter.
How this one unit seemingly remains untouched by a virus that has ravaged the state’s prison system, however, has been credited not to its soap factory, but to the prison’s location and the warden’s strict enforcement of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s coronavirus policy. Meanwhile, those inside prisons with hundreds of infected inmates have long reported dangerous practices. In lawsuits and letters, they have described officers without face masks, forced intermingling between infected and healthy prisoners, and limits to soap and cleaning supplies.
Australia arrests two for planning anti-lockdown protest
Australian police have arrested two men accused of planning an anti-lockdown protest in Melbourne, an unusual move to stop an event that authorities said would put "lives at risk".
Police said Friday that the two men in their 40s had been detained after mobile phones and a computer were seized and both would be formally charged with inciting a criminal offence.
The pair were arrested following an investigation into a protest of hundreds of people planned for Melbourne city centre on Sunday, police told AFP.
The gathering would breach Melbourne's wide-ranging lockdown -- which entered into force Thursday, banning large gatherings and preventing residents from going outside except to work, exercise or buy essentials.