SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) -- The San Joaquin County sheriff says an inmate who was released due to new COVID-19 prison policies was soon arrested again for attempting to steal a vehicle.
Jason Gaul, 33, was arrested in February on suspicion of stealing a vehicle. Gaul had four prior convictions, according to the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office.
Friday, Gaul was released early after a public defender called to say that he fit the category for the zero-bail regulations. Four days later, on Tuesday, Gaul was arrested on suspicion of vehicle tampering and resisting arrest after officers found him inside a vehicle he was allegedly trying to steal.
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San Joaquin County Sheriff Pat Withrow said Gaul will be released again because of the new policy.
“We were proudly keeping (COVID-19) out of our jail, so we felt there was absolutely no reason for this order to be enacted here at our jail,” Withrow said. “There was no reason to put these folks back out on the street. As a matter of fact, they were even safer being in our jail. If it’s not here, they can’t get exposed to it.”
At least 55 people behind bars have already tested positive for COVID-19 in California.
Some law enforcement officials, including Sheriff Withrow, say releasing inmates is a mistake and it will not reduce the coronavirus risk.