RICHMOND, Calif. (AP) — A San Francisco Bay Area county sheriff's office has begun publishing inmates' release dates online in what critics say appears to be an attempt to avoid a California sanctuary law.

The East Bay Times reported Thursday that the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office started posting the information on its website in the middle of February.

A state law that went into effect in January restricts law enforcement from providing federal immigration authorities with the release dates of people in jail. It was part of the state's effort to protect immigrants in the country illegally. The Trump administration has sued the state block it.

The law does have an exception, however, if the release date is publicly available.

Contra Costa Assistant Sheriff Matt Schuler said the new release date practice was in response to a request from organizations that assist with inmate reentry.

___

Information from: The Oakland Tribune, http://www.oaklandtribune.com