SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The omicron surge is straining area jails, and some community advocates are now calling for some inmates to be released.
COVID-19 cases more than doubled in two days at the Sacramento County Jail downtown, according to a reliable law enforcement source. On Jan. 5, there were 27 cases, and on Monday, Jan. 10, that number rose to 35, according to county officials.
The source told ABC10 that number jumped to more than 80 Wednesday, Jan. 12, and dozens of inmates were relocated to the Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center.
That information has not officially been confirmed by the sheriff’s office, which deferred questions to the public health department. Officials there say they are working to confirm this information and will have details to share at a later time.
The Sacramento County Public Defenders Office also said they are gathering information, adding that the surge in COVID-19 in the community has negatively impacted all levels of the criminal justice system.
Jamilia Land and her husband Samual Brown are advocates to end involuntary servitude. Brown was released from prison 20 days ago after serving 24 years for attempted murder. During that time, he earned a bachelor’s degree from California State University, Los Angeles.
He says experiencing a COVID outbreak and being locked down in such a crowded, confined place was terrifying and detrimental to inmates’ physical and mental health and rehabilitation.
“It’s counterproductive to rehabilitation and fighting against the pandemic," Brown said. "So if they really want to do something, they’ll figure out a way to (do so), not only for people to get the programming they need but to actually look at releasing people. Because people are stacked on top of each other, and it’s a recipe for disaster."
Land added people tend to forget that prisoners are people, too.
“When we dehumanize someone and reduce them to less than a human being on our societal value scale, we become more apt to to treating them in cruel fashions and discarding them as a whole population,” Land said.
Land and Brown say they are advocating for the release of inmates who may be at the highest risk of COVID-19 complications. This would not include the most violent and dangerous inmates.
Meanwhile, there is no word from county or state officials if there could be an expedited release of eligible inmates as seen in 2020 and part of 2021.