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California to release prisoners early to prevent coronavirus spread

The US state of California announced plans late Tuesday to release up to 3,500 inmates from prison early, as concerns rise for inmate safety amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. 

The US state of California announced plans late Tuesday to release up to 3,500 inmates from prison early, as concerns rise for inmate safety amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Four inmates and 25 employees have tested positive for the disease, according to a statement from the Department of Corrections.

In order to relieve the capacity of prisons, inmates with minor remaining sentences are to be released on probation, the corrections department said in a statement.

Prisoners serving time for violent crimes, domestic violence or sexual offences would not be released, the statement added.

Additionally, intake of new prisoners from county jails is to be suspended, which is projected to reduce the population by 3,000 within 30 days.

Staff will undergo mandatory temperature screenings before entering prisons, the statement said further.

With more than 120,000 inmates, prisons in the west coast US state are heavily overcrowded. Lawyers for inmates and activists are pushing for early release in the face of rising coronavirus cases. Authorities recently suspended visits to the prisons by family members.

In California more than 8,500 infections with Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, have been detected as of Tuesday according to health officials, and 181 people have already died.

Nationally the US has over 186,000 confirmed cases and on Tuesday surpassed China’s reported deaths with over 3,800, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

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