As many as 8,000 California prisoners could be released ahead of schedule in an unprecedented attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19 inside state prisons, with more than half of the releases expected by the end of the month.

The announcement on Friday by top advisors to Gov. Gavin Newsom offered stark evidence of the dire health conditions at several California prisons. The total number of prisoners at facilities for men and women has already been reduced by thousands since Newsom declared a statewide emergency in response to the coronavirus.

More than 2,300 prisoners have tested positive for the coronavirus, state officials said. Significant increases have been reported at the California Institution for Men in Chino and at San Quentin State Prison in Marin County. At least 31 prisoners have died from COVID-19 related illnesses.

The decision to expedite the release of prisoners comes on the heels of a growing chorus of complaints by state lawmakers, prisoner advocates and a federal judge that the state hasn’t done enough to stem the rising tide of infection.

Note: This article was taken from the Las Angeles Times