The Tuolumne County Jail is releasing 13 inmates early because of a COVID-19 outbreak.
All of them are nonviolent offenders within 30 days of their planned release, the Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post Wednesday night.
Another 16 inmates in three housing units have tested positive for the virus. The overall jail population was cut by 50% to reduce the risk of further spread, the post said.
The releases were expected to happen within about 12 hours of Sheriff Bill Pooley’s announcement, which was just before 8 p.m. Wednesday.
“The safety of our community is my number one priority,” he said. “We are working to strike a balance between keeping our residents safe and ensuring that the inmates, who are under our care, are adequately treated for COVID-19.”
The jail staff is working with the California Department of Public Health on COVID-19 testing and other measures.
The jail is part of a new complex just east of Sonora that also includes a courthouse, juvenile hall and sheriff’s quarters.
As of Thursday, 159 residents of Tuolumne County have died from the virus, its Public Health Department reported. The 11,411 cases include 1,193 inmates, most of them at Sierra Conservation Center, a state prison west of Jamestown.