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Jail releases inmates to ease COVID-19 risk

WOODLAND — The Yolo County Jail has released more than a dozen inmates under a California Supreme Court order that seeks to minimize jail and courthouse health risks during the coronavirus emergency.

365体育投注The order, issued last week by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, authorizes county jails to release inmates with less than 60 days remaining in their sentences, as well as those who may be vulnerable due to their age or health condition. It also encourages significant bail reductions during the pandemic, including zero bail for many low-level crimes.

So far, 14 inmates with less than 30 days to serve have been released, said Lt. Matt Davis of the Yolo County Sheriff’s Office, which operates the jail. That left 211 inmates in custody as of Thursday, down from nearly 300 since last week and far under its normal capacity of 455.

Meanwhile, two jail inmates who showed possible symptoms of coronavirus have since tested negative, Davis said. Both were being monitored in a 10-bed isolation unit that has been established for those with signs of the virus. No other tests are pending.

365体育投注“Medical staff are taking the temperatures of all incoming inmates, and all (existing) inmates did have their temperatures taken,” Davis said this week. If more than 10 patients are identified, a newly constructed 32-bed pod, part of the ongoing jail expansion project, will become a second isolation area.

Inmate visitations remain on hold, except for attorney visits, Davis said.

365体育投注This week, the Yolo County Courthouse began conducting arraignments and other court hearings by video and telephone, part of an effort to reduce inmate transports and lower overall foot traffic within the downtown Woodland court building. The court has minimized staffing, reduced calendars and postponed hundreds of cases to comply with social distancing and shelter-in-place orders.

So far it’s been working, said Yolo Superior Court Presiding Judge Samuel McAdam, who noted during a court conference call Wednesday that courthouse visits have plunged from more than 1,000 on a typical day to about 70 this past Monday.

365体育投注Earlier this week, Cantil-Sakauye issued a statewide order halting all criminal and civil jury trials for 60 days, allowing courts — deemed an “essential service” amid the pandemic — to prioritize the most urgent criminal, civil, juvenile, family and probate matters.

365体育投注Even with that suspension in place, “we have to expect that things are not going to be back to normal” by May, Judge David Reed said during the conference call.

With judges age 65 and older advised to work from home, efforts continue to establish “virtual chambers” allowing them to remotely conference cases with attorneys and even preside over some court proceedings, such as arraignments.

The court also enacted a local rule mandating that all civil, family and probate matters be heard by telephone, unless good cause is shown for an in-person hearing.

365体育投注Reed noted that local law-enforcement agencies are doing their part to reduce the courthouse footprint, eschewing arrests for some misdemeanor offenses in favor of citations giving court dates three to four months down the road. Traffic matters are being cited out five months.

Whether regular operations will have resumed by then, however, remains part of the unknown.

“Things have been moving really rapidly in the past week and a half in a way we could not have anticipated,” Reed said. With new guidelines constantly emerging, “we’re trying to evolve with it.”

365体育投注Updates about Yolo courthouse operations are posted on the court’s website: .

— Reach Lauren Keene at [email protected] or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenkeene

Courthouse remains open with modified calendars, formats

CalMatters


Lauren Keene is a reporter for McNaughton Newspapers.

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