LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The state corrections department says they will grant an early release to an estimated 8,000 more inmates to protect its vulnerable population and staff from COVID-19.

The 8,000 inmates could be eligible for release by the end of August under the new measures, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Decompressing facilities would allow state prisons to implement physical distancing, isolation and quarantine efforts.

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SAN QUENTIN, CALIFORNIA – JULY 08: A view of a new emergency care facility that was erected to treat inmates infected with COVID-19 at San Quentin State Prison on July 08, 2020 in San Quentin, California. Over 1,400 inmates and staff at San Quentin State Prison have become infected with coronavirus COVID-19 after inmates from a Chino, California prison. Six inmates have died from the virus. An emergency care facility was erected on the baseball field to treat inmates suffering from one the largest outbreaks of COVID-19 in the nation. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

“This is absolutely critical for the health and safety of every Californian. Too many people are incarcerated for too long in facilities that spread poor health,” Jay Jordan, executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice, said in a statement.

The Department of corrections had already reduced the inmate population statewide by approximately 10,000 to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

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All those eligible for 180-day release must meet the following criteria:

  • Have 180 days or less to serve on their sentence
  • Not be currently serving time for domestic violence or a violent crime
  • Have no current or prior sentences that require them to register as a sex offender
  • Not have a score that indicates a high risk for violence

Inmates serving sentences of a year or less can also be eligible if they meet similar criteria.

All those who are released will be tested for COVID-19 within seven days of released, according to the corrections department.

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Prisons up and down the state have been hit with outbreaks of COVID-19, affecting both inmates and prison guards. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has released 10,000 inmates since mid-March, suspended movement between facilities, visitations, and implemented mandatory temperature screenings for staff before they enter.