Essential services at the Santa Barbara County Probation Department are still being conducted, such as compliance checks, even as staff have indefinitely reduced to a "core" group of personnel amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a spokeswoman said on Monday.
The core group of County Probation staff, which includes sworn and non-sworn officers, are still conducting home compliance checks and requiring supervised individuals to check in with their officers, said spokeswoman Liz Krene.
Additionally, Probation staff are anticipating an increase in pretrial services for individuals in criminal cases who are arrested and placed on electronic monitoring.
Pretrial detainees are less likely to languish in jail, depending on the severity of their crimes, for an extended period of time while their court cases are on hold, Krene said.
The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department has confirmed five new positive cases of COVID-19 in the county, bringing the total to 18.
Detainees are screened with questions about prior travel to determine if they may have been exposed to the coronavirus.
Krene wasn't able to say if any staff or supervised individuals have tested positive for the coronavirus or whether they have been tested.
The Public Defender's Office on Tuesday called for the release of at-risk jail inmates -- those aged 65 and over or with underlying medical conditions.
Attorneys have secured the release of at least five inmates whose release would have occurred earlier had it not been for the Superior Court's reduction in services on March 17, according to Deputy Public Defender Lea Villegas.
At least 18 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Santa Barbara County since March 15, according to public health officials.
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday issued a stay-at-home order, allowing only essential travel and businesses to operate.
Supervised individuals, including sex offenders, are still required to check in with their probation officers, despite the closure of some reception desks at county facilities to limit the exposure of the coronavirus.
In-person check-ins are still allowed, although social distancing is being maintained and supervised individuals are encouraged to call a number to check in, Krene said.
Probation officials are discussing expanding access to electronic check-ins.
Home compliance checks are still conducted based on priority of risk level, or whether an individual is at low, medium or high risk of violating their supervision terms, and officers are still required to maintain social distancing during home checks, particularly with a resident who is at-risk of coronavirus, Krene said.
Additionally, normal staffing levels are being maintained at juvenile hall and Los Prietos Boys Camp.
Probation staff who are able to conduct business from home are encouraged to do so to maintain social distancing.
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