Non-violent inmates released in response to Covid-19 pandemicFree Access

Some inmates have been released from the Mariposa County Jail due to concerns about Covid-19, according to Mariposa County Sheriff Doug Binnewies.

Twelve inmates have been released since March 13, said Binnewies, working in conjunction with court, probation and the district attorney’s office.

Only inmates with non-violent backgrounds are being released after being vetted.

“Working with our medical staff, we have categorized our inmate population into low risk, moderate risk or high risk,” Binnewies shared in an email with the Gazette. “We are releasing non-violent inmates to lessen our inmate population to allow for more space for separating/quarantining ill inmates if this became necessary. We are working with probation to release probation-sentenced inmates on electronic monitoring and/or probation supervision. … Those released have been vetted … and some are being supervised by probation. Again, this was preemptive action to allow housing flexibility within the jail and consistent with our pandemic protocols.”

Binnewies said his staff has “implemented many protocols” at the jail.

“We are medical screening all inmate bookings, staff and visitors to the jail. We have paused all work furlough programs,” he said. “We have now discontinued inmate visitation, but have expanded our video and telephonic inmate calling. … We are working with and coordinating with the courts for greater use of video arraignment/video court if this became necessary. We have implemented our pandemic protocols.”

In addition to the activity at the jail, Binnewies said there is “much activity in several divisions” of the sheriff’s office, in response to the Covid-19 situation.

Binnewies said the sheriff office’s Office of Emergency Services side is fully active and has been staffed at status Level 3, the highest alert staffing status.

“This supports our all-county response to this current Covid-19 emergency, including the county’s public health DOC (Department Operation Center),” he said.

To better respond as a mountain community, the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office is also coordinating with Tuolumne and Madera County partners by “tying in EOC units” and communication, Binnewies explained.

“This helps with a ‘mountain regional’ coordinated response to this Covid-19 issue,” Binnewies said.

Binnewies said the state’s “stay at home order” has been “well received” and supported by the community.

“We are thankful for our community’s cooperative and supportive response to this,” he said. “As a county we are responding to something new. But successfully responding to emergencies and disasters is nothing new to our communities. Mariposa County and its citizens have responded to 12 county disasters in the past four years. We will, again, respond and recover from this Covid-19 threat.”

Binnewies called it “an evolving and dynamic” situation.

“However, I have much faith in our county’s emergency response leadership and structure and I hope this also gives our community comfort. With our all county response, we are simultaneously staffing recovery units to plan for, help support and restart, our community’s needs, such as businesses and our local economy, as soon as we can start to transition from response to recovery,” he said. “The Mariposa County Sheriff ’s Office, along with our county partners, would like to recognize and thank our communities for their cooperation and support as shown so far while responding to this emergency.”

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