Undersheriff Bill Honsal (standing) responds to a community member's question at Wednesday's meeting.
In a meeting organized by local interfaith church leaders, a panel of Humboldt County’s top law enforcement officers addressed concerns this afternoon about the Humboldt County jail’s release policy. Marketed as a general community safety discussion, the meeting arose out of criticism of the jail’s policy to release inmates detained for being drunk in public during late-night hours — but passions were clearly still high over the killing of Father Eric Freed, who was named by multiple community members and remembered in a moment of silence following the meeting.
Sheriff Mike Downey addressed the jail’s policy in the Journal article “Dead of Night," and reiterated his office’s stance that people detained for being drunk or on drugs must be released when they’re determined sober by jail staff. Holding them longer would violate their constitutional rights, he told the crowd.
During the moderated response to community questions, jail Capt. Ed Wilkinson told the crowd that six other counties around California hold inmates until daylight hours before releasing them — four of them citing a lack of transportation options in the middle of the night. Wilkinson said he was hoping to get more information about those jail policies.
More perspective on the meeting, including responses to many community questions, can be found here.