Fresno County Inmates Released Early

Fresno, CA, USA Dozens of inmates walked out of here with smiles on their faces. They did not expect an early release. The decision was met with fury by the mayor who tonight says it's a reckless call.

"I'm just glad to be out. I'm glad they did the budget cuts here in county jail."

Mark Munoz woke up to news he thought had to be too good to be true.

Mark Munoz, Released Inmate: "They called like me and three other guys in my pod. We've been there for like ever and I was like, I ain't asking questions, let's go."

Instead, the 21 year old serving time for felony identity theft was set free with this paper stating the release was due to a court order.

Sheriff's Spokesman Chris Curtice says once the population reached 100 percent, the department was forced to let some inmates go early.

Chris Curtice: "It's considered overcrowded now. We reached maximum capacity again in our men's minimum security area so we had to release inmates per the federal guidelines set by the judge that forces her to release inmates when it reaches a certain point."

Fresno Mayor Alan Autry wasted no time Tuesday blasting the sheriff saying in the face of tough budget times quote "The decision to release prisoners before sentencing is both reckless and unnecessary." he goes on to say "To release prisoners upon the law abiding people of our city and valley should never be an option."

Inmates eligible for release are considered non violent offenders who are serving time for either misdemeanor or felony crimes involving drugs, theft, vandalism or other related offenses. Many are awaiting sentencing.

"I'm very happy that I'm out. County jail is not the place to be."

Now it's been difficult to pinpoint how many inmates were set free. Sheriff's officials say 22 were released. But based on the numbers we watched come out, it could be closer to 40.


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