CSAC Bulletin Article

PPIC Report – County Jail Populations Decline

May 15, 2020

The Public Policy Institute of California released a report summarizing statewide jail population trends in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Not surprisingly, the report explains that jail populations across the state have declined—stating that between February 29 and April 11, all of California’s counties reduced their jail populations by releasing more people than they admitted.

However, the reductions varied across counties: some lowered their jail populations by less than 10%, whereas others made reductions in excess of 50%. The decreasing jail population is a combination of deliberate early releases, a decline in admissions, and the new $0 bail rule reducing the pretrial population.

The report notes that December 2019 jail populations statewide totaled 71,200. While data provided by the Board of State and Community Corrections now shows April 2020 jail populations statewide totaled 58,000. The report also concludes that it is important to assess the impact of $0 bail and other emergency measures as permanent policy shifts are considered.

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