The Latest (April 5):
The Stockton Police Department reports Jason Gaul was arrested Wednesday after being released Tuesday for the second time under a new COVID-19 policy.
Gaul was found in a stolen vehicle and charged with grand theft of an automobile, grand theft during a state of emergency, committing a crime while released from custody on a felony and vandalism.
Police say he does not qualify for a zero-bail release due to his charges.
Original story below:
SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) — The San Joaquin County sheriff says an inmate who was released due to new COVID-19 prison policies was soon arrested again for attempting to steal a vehicle.
Back in February, Jason Gaul was arrested on suspicion of stealing a vehicle. Gaul had four prior convictions, according to the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office.
By Friday, 33-year-old Gaul was released early after a public defender called to say that he fit the category for the zero bail regulations. Four days later, on Tuesday, Gaul was arrested on suspicion of vehicle tampering and resisting arrest after officers found him inside a vehicle that he was trying to steal.
San Joaquin County Sheriff Pat Withrow said Gaul will get released again because of the new policy.
“We were proudly keeping (COVID-19) out of our jail, so we felt there was absolutely no reason for this order to be enacted here at our jail,” Withrow said. “There was no reason to put these folks back out on the street. As a matter of fact, they were even safer being in our jail. If it’s not here, they can’t get exposed to it.”
Across California, inmates accused of low-level crimes are now getting released from jail. The goal of reducing bail to zero dollars and freeing inmates is to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
At least 55 people behind bars have already tested positive for COVID-19.
Some law enforcement officials, including Sheriff Withrow, say releasing inmates is a mistake and it will not reduce the coronavirus risk.