By CBSLA Staff

VENTURA (CBSLA) – Dozens of inmates were released early this week due to a coronavirus outbreak in the Ventura County Jail system.

Seventy-six inmates were released in an effort to mitigate the effects of a massive outbreak in which 45 inmates and three staff members tested positive for COVID-19, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office reported Tuesday.

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The inmates who were released had less than 60 days left on their sentences and were all serving time for non-violent crimes, such as burglary and drug offenses, the sheriff’s department said.

“This will make space available to more effectively manage the inmate population and prevent the further spread of COVID19,” Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub said in a statement. “This isn’t a decision I take lightly, but we have to take reasonable measures during these extraordinary times to prioritize the safety of our residents both in and out of jail.”

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Ventura County has recorded 32,144 coronavirus cases and 216 deaths from the disease so far.

118 inmates have tested positive in county correctional facilities.

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On Dec. 18, a 68-year-old Marine veteran who was arrested last year for the 1976 cold case slaying of a woman near Irvine became the first Orange County Jail inmate to die of the coronavirus.