Morris County Jail Inmates To Be Released

Citing virus concerns, officials in Iowa reduce prison, jail numbers

He recently showed symptoms of the flu and was placed in isolation, said Carrie Braun of the Orange County Sheriff's Department. At least seven of those employees have been in contact with other employees and inmates at the county jail.

"The COVID-19 virus represents a serious and unprecedented risk to the health and safety of people in DOC custody and DOC staff", retired Corrections secretary Dan Pacholke wrote.

Jo Farrar, chief executive of the Prison and Probation Service, told the Commons Justice Committee that 13 inmates had tested positive for coronavirus with confirmed cases in nine prisons at present - although others were suspected to have been affected.

Among the coalition's requests are the release of people jailed for misdemeanors, as well as people in prisons who are over the age of 50 or have been in prison for more than 25 years.

Gov. Jay Inslee's office said in an email he is aware of the issue, takes it seriously and is talking with the department about it.

The state's 12 prisons are now operating over-capacity and the lawsuit says social distancing - the public health strategy deemed most effective to reduce person-to-person transmission - is not achievable in an over-crowded, congregate environment.

One of the speakers during a conference call to announce the petition was Suzanne Cook whose 62-year-old husband has spent 28 years in prison and has a number of chronic conditions, including heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.

A screening protocol has also been developed for people coming in and out of the prisons, Overton said.

"I hope that this causes a reckoning with really what's a sustainable incarcerated population and what's the aim of the incarceration", she said. And transferring prisoners to hospitals for treatment is likely to help overwhelm the hospitals, could require security arrangements that would affect care of patients from the general population, and could further introduce the virus into nearby cities.

"Prisons are full of folks that are aging, folks that come from already marginalized communities and what we are looking at is a nightmare", said Oliver.

But attorneys with Columbia Legal Service insisted that the state has not acted quickly enough. DOC has said it's already allowing access to hand sanitizer in situations where soap and water is not readily accessible. They submitted a letter to state and county officials with recommended changes in light of COVID-19.

DOC typically doesn't comment on pending litigation, but said in a statement that it has "mounted a system-wide emergency response to the COVID-19 crisis".

"We're only focusing on violent and threatening arrests and those people are being scanned when they enter", Atterberry said. As of March 22, inmate visitation is canceled.

The Wayne County Sheriff's Deputies have cut back on the number of people they are arresting because of the COVID-19 outbreak.



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