San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin on Tuesday joined 30 other prosecutors from around the nation to push for reductions to jail and prison populations in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a joint statement, the district attorneys called attention to the plight of 2.3 million adults and children who are incarcerated nationally today including in federal and state prisons as well as local jails.
“An outbreak of the coronavirus in these custodial facilities would not only move fast, it would potentially be catastrophic,” the statement reads, citing the crammed conditions that many live in.
The statement recommended more than a dozen reforms including cite-and-release policies for offenders who do not pose a public safety risk, and for the release of non-dangerous inmates who are part of vulnerable populations including the elderly.
The prosecutors also want to reduce the prison population so that inmates are not sharing cells as much as possible.
The district attorneys argue that overcrowding could pose a threat to communities outside prisons if the facilities “become breeding grounds for the coronavirus.”
Last week, San Francisco prohibited visitors from seeing inmates at County Jail and implemented heightened screening procedures for inmates during the booking process.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has also suspended visiting hours at all prisons in response to the virus.
Boudin pressed for the reforms alongside progressive prosecutors like Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner and Rachel Rollins, the district attorney for Suffolk County, Massachusetts.
Read the full statement here.