After a COVID-19-related push to drop Los Angeles County’s jail population by roughly 5,000 inmates to prevent the spread of the virus, the amount of prisoners has grown by nearly 15%, according to a report posted to the county’s website.
As of Aug. 27, the countywide jail population was 13,280, up from a low of 11,723 just a few months ago. That uptick was attributed in part to restrictions on transfers during the coronavirus pandemic that have put thousands of individuals in limbo awaiting relocation to state prisons or state hospitals.
In May, a transfer of 121 inmates from a state prison in Chino is thought to have been responsible for an outbreak at San Quentin that infected more than 2,200 inmates in the Bay Area lockup and killed more than two dozen inmates and employees.
The total puts the county back over the system’s state-rated capacity of 12,404, according to a working group tasked with figuring out how the county might close the downtown Men’s Central Jail.
Bookings have also increased, as the Men’s Central Jail numbers jumped by 11% in the first two weeks of August, according to analysis provided by the Vera Institute of Justice for the county report. Crimes that dropped sharply during the early months of the pandemic, including violent crimes, have increased as some public restrictions have been lifted, according to both the Los Angeles Police Department and county Sheriff’s Department.
The update, submitted to the board with a letter from Dr. Christina Ghaly, who runs the county’s hospital and clinic system, was dated Sept. 9 and posted recently
Los Angeles Men’s Central Jail holds about 30% of the county’s jail inmates and is located close to the downtown criminal courthouse. The working group is tasked with determining how it could relocate thousands of inmates from that facility without creating overcrowding elsewhere.