CSAC Bulletin Article

CDCR Early Releases

July 2, 2020

In response to increasing court pressure and the growing number of COVID-19 cases in state prisons, this week the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) will begin a new early release process. Similar to the last round of early releases, this new program will include several “public safety screens” which exclude offenders:

  • Currently serving a sentence for a serious offense
  • Currently serving a sentence for a violent offense
  • Currently serving a sentence for a domestic violence offense
  • With a risk assessment score of 5 or above
  • Required to register as a sex offender per Penal Code 290

Based on these screens, it is expected that the majority of individuals will be released under the supervision of county probation departments through Post Release Community Supervision (PRCS). While the last round of early releases applied to offenders within 60 days of their normal release date, this new program will be extended to those within 180 days.

Unlike the prior early releases, the new program will require all offenders to have a verified housing plan and require a COVID-19 test prior to early release. If an offender does not have a verified housing plan, they will not be released prior to their normal release date. Likewise, if an offender refuses a COVID-19 test, they will not be released prior to their normal release date.

If an offender tests positive for COVID-19, the receiving county probation department and public health will be notified. Positive individuals requiring quarantine, or individuals requiring isolation, will be transported by CDCR to a “Project Hope” room. Project Hope is a state-level equivalent of Project Roomkey in which the Office of Emergency Services and Department of General Services have secured hotel/motel contracts for individuals. The state will cover the costs of the Project Hope program, but most individuals will be under the supervision of county probation departments.

CDCR is working with Chief Probation Officers to provide additional information about the population being released. Based on past practice, it is expected that the state will provide county probation departments with additional funding for the increase of the PRCS population caused by these early releases. As that decision and funding level is finalized, we will provide further updates.

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