By Veronica Miller, Catherine Potente, Koda Slingluff
SACRAMENTO, CA — Convoluted policies related to COVID-19 kept a Sacramento woman from serving her ordered time in jail, Assistant Public Defender Christopher Ryan argued Monday in Sacramento County Superior Court.
The woman surrendered herself to jail seven times unsuccessfully, he said, each time being turned away because of the jail’s pandemic-era policies.
The woman (in misdemeanor cases, the Vanguard does not identify the accused), was originally supposed to spend time in jail after pleading no contest to driving under the combined influence of alcohol and drugs.
Public defender Ryan spoke on behalf of the woman, who called into the courtroom via Zoom.
Deputy District Attorney Sylvia LaRosa was the first to seem baffled by the strange situation, saying, “You’re telling me she tried to turn herself in and was turned away seven times?”
Commissioner Phillip Stanger responded immediately by trying to explain the local jail’s COVID-19 policies.
“I’m not indifferent to what you’re leading to,” he said to the DDA. “But it will be 100 times that they keep trying to surrender to the branch, for the last year and a half, because the branch requires a quarantine time of 14 days and a person only has four days to serve.”
The commissioner addressed the two local jailing options of Sacramento, one which is called the “main’ jail,” and one is the Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center (RCCC).
“What anybody needs to do is try and avoid the RCCC. Whoever is sentencing RCCC, that isn’t working. Because they have a 14-day quarantine, they kick ‘em out,” the commissioner continued.
“So is the branch giving them credit for turning themselves in, or trying to turn themselves in?” DDA LaRosa asked.
Commissioner Stanger responded, “Same thing I told you earlier. We checked on that earlier and what’s happening is that the sheriff’s program gives a date credit every time they try to surrender themselves as to the work project aspect.”
As of the court’s discussion, there were 18 new COVID-19 cases reported during intake at both jails. The same data report indicates that the RCCC currently holds no Covid-positive patients. (The Vanguard’s partner, the Covid In-Custody Project, provides a more in-depth analysis of this data here.)
Toward the end of the discussion, the public defender reminded the court that the policy of the jails right now is “that when they turn themselves in they do get a day’s credit, they’re not getting good time credit. The person tried to turn themselves in seven times, they get seven days actual credit.”
The commissioner changed the woman’s new court date to April 11.