California police arrested 14 protesters after they chained themselves to the fence of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s home calling for him to release “all” prisoners.
Dozens of protesters gathered outside of Newsom’s property in Fair Oaks on Monday morning to push for the mass release of inmates because of the pandemic, as well as to stop state law enforcement from working with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to The Sacramento Bee.
“Gov. Newsom, you are responsible for the COVID crisis that’s happening in prisons and jails,” one demonstrator said. “You must act now to save lives.”
A group of protesters carrying a sign that read “Your actions save lives. Free them all” chained themselves together with others chained to Newsom’s gate. Police arrested and charged those chained together with trespass, unlawful assembly, and failure to disperse after a warning.
Newsom reacted to the protest outside his home in a press conference later in the day.
“The worst thing we could do is mass release, where people are just released out to the streets and sidewalks, and end up in benches and up in parks, on the side of the road,” Newsom said. “That’s not compassion, that would be … making the problem, in fact, worse.”
Newsom’s administration is moving forward with a plan to release thousands of inmates from state prisons to curb the risk of coronavirus spreading through the facilities. On July 10, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) announced a plan to release 8,000 convicts.
As The Daily Wire reported at the time:
The CDCR will release prisoners in three stages. The state will begin releasing prisoners with 180 days or fewer left on their sentences who have not been convicted of a violent crime or are registered or required to register as a sex offender.
In the second stage, inmates age 30 and older with less than a year left on their sentences will be eligible for release if they are being held in one of eight prisons with “large populations of high-risk patients.” For the third stage, prisoners deemed at high risk of the coronavirus will be released as long as they are not convicted of a violent crime, required to register as a sex offender, or serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
Many state and federal authorities in charge of managing the U.S. prison population have put in place early release programs since the start of the pandemic to protect criminals from the virus. Prison facilities are generally close-quarters with little chance to social distance, so officials have struggled to balance the health risks of the prisoners with the risk to the general public with releasing inmates.
In New York City, police officers have rearrested dozens of criminals released under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s rushed plan to relieve the city’s jails of some inmates.
“I think it’s unconscionable just on a human level that folks were shown mercy and this is what some of them have done,” de Blasio said in April, reflecting on the inmates his administration set loose who then committed violent crimes shortly afterward.