How will the release of prisoners due to coronavirus impact public safety?

Apr 6, 2020, 3:48 PM
Snohomish County, life sentence, inmates...
(Associated Press)
(Associated Press)

Prisoners across the state are being released and suspects are not being booked all over concerns about the coronavirus spreading within our prisons. But how bad is it now?

Mill Creek Councilmember Vincent Cavaleri joined the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH to discuss Snohomish County releasing criminals. Cavaleri is a member of Snohomish County Sheriff’s Department, but is not speaking on their behalf.

“I don’t think any of us anticipated the mass releases and the level of these folks being released back into the community. That is one of those things that I hope doesn’t come back to haunt us. But I have a feeling it will,” he said. “We’ve reduced the jail population by about 50 percent thus far.”

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When he sees the release of these prisoners, what’s the first thing that goes through his head from a public safety perspective?

“Well, I have a family and loved ones just like everybody else. The bottom line is this: There are people that are going to have to go to jail. … I worry especially about the aftermath of these 50 percent of the population that have been released. They’re going to have to be either booked back in, picked back up, rearrested for new crimes. We haven’t even begun to see the scourge or the results of some of these efforts,” he said.

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Who’s making these decisions?

“It’s coming from the prosecuting attorney, it’s coming from the public defender’s office, and ideally,
it ends up being the judges who are carrying out the releases. We all understand the risks.”

As of yet, there haven’t been reports of a mass coronavirus outbreak in prisons. In terms of who’s actually being released, Cavaleri said it’s a wide range.

“From low-level offenders to mid-level to, in some cases, upper-level offenders who are guilty or been accused of weapons charges, people with long rap sheets, people with long records, people with high amounts of bail. We’re talking hundreds of thousands, having it reduced to a few thousand.”

“I understand that there’s a mandate of reducing population,” he added. “But at what lengths do we go putting this off on the society that’s out there.”

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3 – 6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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How will the release of prisoners due to coronavirus impact public safety?