SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) — Gov. Gavin Newsom has vetoed a bill that would have stopped the release of California jail inmates during early morning hours.
The Getting Home Safe Act was authored by state Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, and was prompted by the death of Jessica St. Louis, 26, in July 2018.
St. Louis died of an opioid overdose about four hours after being released at about 1:30 a.m. from Alameda County’s Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.
Newsom vetoed the bill Saturday because it would have allowed inmates to stay in a waiting room at a jail until morning, something that would cost the state more money.
Newsom said in a veto message, “The bill’s intent can be accomplished through a more tailored approach that does not put the state treasury on the hook for local jail operations costs which are a local responsibility.”
Skinner said in a tweet Sunday, “Jessica St Louis was found dead after Alameda County Jail released her at 1:30 a.m. with only a BART ticket. #SB42 was to prevent deaths like Jessica’s. Not happy that the Sheriff’s Association opposed SB 42. Frustrated that @GavinNewsom vetoed it.”
Legislators overwhelmingly supported it. A spokesperson for Skinner said the senator hasn’t decided whether to reintroduce the bill with changes.
Spokesman Robert Gammon said, “She’s going to think it over.”
Following St. Louis’s death, a spokesman for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office said that sheriff’s officials are trying to limit midnight releases of inmates.
Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly said St. Louis had time to arrange transportation for herself before she was released.
The Young Women’s Freedom Center, which supported SB 42, said in a statement following the veto, “We are disappointed in this outcome.”
But, they said they are going to work with Newsom “in the coming weeks and months to end late-night releases altogether and to improve county jail procedures for people being released.”
Newsom also said in his veto message, “Jails should not be releasing people onto the streets during overnight hours. This is unsafe practice, resulting in many tragic and preventable outcomes over the years.”