The San Bernardino County district attorney's office is not a proponent of the release of inmates solely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and we do not support the release of county jail inmates awaiting the court process.
Through orders from the governor's office and numerous health officers throughout the state, millions of California residents have been ordered to stay inside their residences to help flatten the curve and stop the virus. We are resistant to having a judicial council force our judges to release inmates into the community. The judicial council should not be making decisions about a jail population about which they have little understanding.
Everyone in San Bernardino County needs to know that the inmates that are in custody have already had their cases reviewed by judges and determined to be a risk to the safety of the public. The fact that there's a pandemic doesn't mean they are less of a threat to the public if released.
The criminal justice system has a track record of being able to handle more than one issue at a time. We can make sure the public is safe, while we also make sure inmates are cared for by a qualified jail and medical staff. We can make modifications to the criminal justice process in the courtrooms to make sure due process continues, and everyone’s constitutional rights are observed, which includes the health of inmates.
If there were numbers indicating there was a medical crisis in our jail system in San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon and I would take action to address such a situation.
Ironically, many inmates in jail and prison environments have better access to medical care than when they are out of custody and in the community. In the county Sheriff's Department Jail System, there is medical staff on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
At this point, there are no indicators leading us to believe it would be in the best interest of our community to release criminals from custody.
Jason Alexander was elected San Bernardino County district attorney in June 2018.