Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order Tuesday evening suspending the intake of new prisoners into both state and juvenile facilities, citing the health and safety of current staff and inmates in state lockups.
Newsom said counties should keep teenagers and adults in local facilities for at least the next 30 days. He also ordered all parole hearings to be conducted via video conference for the next 60 days, and instructed the state Board of Parole Hearings to create a system by April 13 to conduct those hearings.
The order came after the first reports of coronavirus in the state system: One inmate and five staff members, spread across four separate prisons, have tested positive for COVID-19.
"In order to address the legitimate anxieties and concerns related to prisoners and to make sure that we have procedures and protocols in place to protect staff and inmates from COVID-19 ... we are going to restrict the intake process in the system," Newsom said in a video posted Tuesday evening.
"We are putting together new protocols and procedures throughout that system — 35 prisons — to make sure that we are isolating people, that we are not mixing our prison populations as we tend to do with transfers and the like," he added.