RIVERSIDE, Calif. - Riverside County could receive up to 500 of the 8,000 inmates due to be released early from state prisons under the governor's penal system coronavirus mitigation plan, and the "surge" of additional parolees will be difficult to handle, the county's chief probation officer told the Board of Supervisors Tuesday.
"We've got things to work on and prepare for," Chief Ron Miller said. "We need additional funding to manage the surge."
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced last week that early releases will occur between now and the end of August, though counties have not been fully apprised of the exact numbers returning to their jurisdictions, according to Miller.
He said the Riverside County Department of Probation is estimating about 500 parolees who will be added to the rolls of those on post-release community supervision. The county is currently monitoring 1,894 PRCS "clients," Miller said.
According to the probation chief, the usual flow of inmates moving out of the state correctional system and into county supervision is 100 a month. However, last month, the number nearly doubled -- an indication of the impact of the governor's public health orders connected to the prisons.
Since March, more than 10,000 inmates have been automatically granted early parole under the stated goal of containing the spread of COVID-19. According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, there are roughly 2,300 active virus cases within the prison system, populated by about 113,000 inmates.
According to Department of Probation figures, the highest number of PRCS parolees are going into the cities of Hemet and Riverside.
Miller said the pending releases may negatively impact the county if they're returning with infections, and the state has not been transparent on the number of ill individuals who may be among the ex-convicts.
According to the probation chief, the county will require higher Assembly Bill 109 Public Safety Realignment Act appropriations to manage the influx. But as of now, the amount of funding to the county has been slashed to 2014 levels, Miller said.
"We're asking the state for more funding," he said. "We need to assist this new group of clients coming into the community (with living expenses, health care expenses and job resources)."