A Southern California district attorney’s office is sounding the alarm after a number of “high-risk sex offenders” have been released early from jail amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The office of Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer issued a news release Tuesday warning citizens in the county to be vigilant after seven men who are registered sex offenders were released from custody early between April 7 and April 22.
The offenders, each of whom were charged with tampering with GPS devices, among other alleged crimes, were released early over fears about the spread of COVID-19 in jails, despite a law requiring sex offenders to spend a minimum of six months in jail for violating parole by disabling or altering tracking devices.
“These kinds of high-risk sex offenders are the most dangerous kind of criminal and the most likely to re-offend,” Spitzer said. “They are doing everything they can to avoid detection by the parole officers assigned to monitor them so they can potentially commit additional sex offenses. These are not the kind of people who should be getting a break.”
According to the news release, the men were ordered released by an appointed court commissioner named Joseph Dane.
“Since April 7, 2020 seven registered sex offenders – with crimes ranging from indecent exposure and sexual battery to child molestation – have been released as a result of rulings by appointed Court Commissioner Joseph Dane,” the release states.
“One of the registered sex offenders, convicted of sexual battery, was released on April 7, 2020 after Commissioner Dane sentenced him 20 days credit time served and ordered him to report to parole. Just two weeks later – on April 24, 2020 – he appeared in court on another parole violation and Commissioner Dane again released him after sentencing him to 16 days credit time served.”
Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes reported the county jail system has reduced its inmate population by 45 percent since the outbreak of COVID-19, and argued there is plenty of room for high-risk sex offenders to safely remain in custody.
Barnes issued a statement on Twitter clarifying that his department was not responsible for the release of the inmates.
“These inmates were released by court order, and were not in any way connected to the measures I have taken to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the Orange County Jail,” Barnes said.
Please see below for my statement clarifying information that was reported inaccurately. pic.twitter.com/spuD5N3ixg
— OC Sheriff Don Barnes (@OCSheriffBarnes) April 29, 2020
KTLA shared Spitzer’s warning, along with images of all seven men, on Twitter.
O.C. District Attorney warns residents after release of 7 ‘high-risk’ sex offenders during coronavirus pandemic https://t.co/dx1GLidjx3
— KTLA (@KTLA) April 29, 2020
According to the DA’s office, the sex offenders who have been released are: Luis Joel Ramirez, 27; Rudy William Grajeda Magdaleno, 39; James Franklin Bowling, 50; Calvin Curtis Coleman, 52; Kyle Albert Winton, 40; Jose Adrian Oregel, 46; and Mario Ernesto Sandoval, 45.
News of the release of the men back into the community comes as jails and prisons nationwide have released inmates in order to lower their populations and attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Some of those inmates have quickly found themselves back in custody after being released.
KTLA reported a man named Rocky Lee Music was released from the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, California, last week, but was accused of carjacking a motorist 40 minutes later.
Another man named Owen Aguilar was arrested less than a week after his release from the Fresno County Jail and charged with setting nine fires.
Thousands of California inmates are now back on the streets after the state’s Judicial Council ordered bail for low-level offenders reduced to zero, KTLA reported.
At least 50 inmates released in recent weeks are already back behind bars in New York.
A Florida man who was released from custody early two weeks ago after being arrested on drug charges was rearrested the following day for allegedly killing another man.
NBC News reported the man, 26-year-old Edward Williams of Tampa, was arrested on April 13 on a number of charges, including second-degree murder.
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