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As Coronavirus Spreads In US Jails, San Francisco's Public Defender Demands Early Release

San Francisco Sheriff's Department
A San Francisco Jail on 850 Bryant Street, where a sheriff's deputy testified positive for Covid-19 this week.

San Francisco Public Defender Mano Raju sounded the alarm about the coronavirus dangers inside the county’s jails weeks ago. He called for the immediate release of inmates who are at the end of the sentences, and the release of people at heightened risk for the virus, like those who are elderly, or who have lung disease or diabetes.

"The biggest worry is the possibility of a pandemic spread through the jails. This is such a challenging time for so many of us. I'd like people to imagine how much more challenging this would be if they were incarcerated."

The San Francisco Superior Court signed orders to release 26 inmates in the county on Friday. Sheriff officials say a deputy tested positive for the virus on Sunday, and that there are no known coronavirus cases among the county's inmates so far. 

Click the play button above to listen to the full interview.