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Jail sees slight decrease in jail population as nonviolent offenders begin to be released

SAN ANTONIO – The day after Bexar County officials instituted a new course of action to release nonviolent offenders from the jail due to the coronavirus pandemic, there was only a slight population decrease.

A BCSO spokesman confirmed 145 people were released on Wednesday, only to have the jail take in 137 new bookings.

“At the end of the day, there’s just people that have to go to jail. And while we’re trying to manage that number where we possibly can, sometimes it can’t be helped,” Sheriff Javier Salazar told KSAT 12 following a press conference with county leaders Wednesday.

A jail inmate in quarantine since Tuesday tested negative for COVID-19, according to a BCSO press release Thursday morning. The release indicated a second inmate who had contact with a University Health System physician who tested positive for the virus was still awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test.

The facility, which had around 3,820 inmates as of Wednesday, has so far been able to keep out the fast-spreading respiratory disease.

“We do a lot of knocking on wood these days. So far, so good,” Salazar said.

On Monday, Salazar and other county leaders sent city of San Antonio officials a letter asking that SAPD file nonviolent offenses at large instead of on site, which would decrease the number of people immediately taken into custody by law enforcement.

A source familiar with the county’s jail population plan said a best case scenario would be to have its population decrease to around 2,000 inmates after the next several weeks.

One interesting side effect of a possible substantial decrease in jail numbers: a temporary reprieve from mandatory overtime shifts for jailers.

COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, but spread around the world in early 2020, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March.

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