California prison population falls to 30-year low

The state prison population has dropped to the lowest number in 30 years as people are released due to the coronavirus, officials from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said.

 As of Thursday, the in-prison population was 99,929.

"The last time that number was below 100,000 was in 1990, when California’s overall population was almost 10 million less than it is today," the agency said in a release. 

Earlier this month, with immense pressure from community advocates, Gov. Gavin Newsom pledged to release 8,000 inmates amid the rampant spread of the virus behind bars, including the second-worst outbreak in the country at San Quentin State Prison.

Since March, the department has reduced its total incarcerated population by more than 16,000, through the suspension of county jail intake, and the expedited release of approximately 3,500 people in April, and more than 6,700 in July. 

Still, even after the population dropped, the California prison system was at 123% capacity by early July, the Chronicle noted. 

Advocates for incarcerated people, especially for those at San Quentin State Prison where 19 inmates have died of the virus, however, are calling for an even further reduction of the population. 

According to the Vera Institute, a nonprofit research and policy organization, the top 10 COVID-19 hotspots in the country are jails and prisons.

There are 1,607 incarcerated persons with active cases of coronavirus statewide, and 48 incarcerated persons receiving medical care at outside health care facilities across the state.

Also, as of Thursday, there have been 47 confirmed positive tests for coronavirus among youth at the Division of Juvenile Justice facilities. 

This story was reported from Oakland, Calif.