SAN ANTONIO – The population of the Bexar County Jail has decreased by more than 500 inmates since last week as local officials deploy policies aimed at mitigating the spread of COVID-19 at the jail, among staff and within the local community.
The jail’s population as of Wednesday afternoon was 3,311 people, down from a figure of 3,820 last week, both provided to KSAT by the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office.
Not all of the population decrease is directly attributed to the release of inmates, but rather a combination of coronavirus prevention efforts that include the sheriff’s office releasing some nonviolent offenders and fewer people accused of nonviolent crimes — like a criminal trespassing charge for a homeless person — being brought into custody. BSCO announced last week that it would begin identifying inmates for possible release if they were being held on a nonviolent charge and met certain criteria.
Sheriff Javier Salazar and other county leaders also sent City of San Antonio officials a letter last week 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.
“Although jails absolutely serve a purpose, during a pandemic event they can inadvertently become incubators and amplifiers for a contagious illness,” the trio of officials wrote.
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.
To date, no inmates or personnel inside the facility have tested positive for COVID-19.
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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