Tuolumne County jail

Tuolumne County Sheriff Bill Pooley announced on Tuesday that his office will be releasing up to 40 pre-trial inmates by April 13 after the judicial body overseeing California’s state courts voted on Monday to temporarily eliminate bail for people charged with low-level offenses.

His office sent a news release later in the afternoon saying 14 would be released. 

The decision by the California Judicial Council comes amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has caused concern about potential outbreaks in the state’s county jails. Pooley shared the news with the county Board of Supervisors at a public meeting on Tuesday.

“We’re going to start releasing them right away to meet the deadline,” Pooley said, adding that he couldn’t release all 40 inmates on one day due to paperwork and other logistics.

People arrested and charged with violent crimes would still be subject to the normal bail schedules, but the temporary waiver would be in effect for 90 days for people awaiting trial on most misdemeanors and “lower-level” felonies. 

Pooley said his office would continue to track repeat offenders released under the state’s temporary bail rules and arrest them if they commit another offense.

Sheriff’s Deputy Niccoli Sandelin said in an interview with The Union Democrat on Monday that the office has continued booking new inmates into the jail since the crisis began, but there have been no symptomatic individuals among the new detainees.

The population at the jail was already reduced from the maximum capacity of 149 inmates to 123 on March 26. Sandelin said the population was reduced to 104 inmates as of Monday.


Contact Alex MacLean at amaclean@uniondemocrat.com or (209) 768-5175.


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