Nashville-Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall announced he has initiated plans to reduce the number of inmates in sheriff’s office custody as the coronavirus emergency continues.
This, according to a press release Hall put out this week.
Those plans include expanding pre-trial release criteria and eliminating the work release program. PTR participants are expected to double over the next few days and all work release inmates are being furloughed immediately, the press release said.
The Tennessee Star asked sheriff’s office spokeswoman Karla West if Hall and his staff had considered alternatives before deciding on this course of action.
“We are exploring every option that would release qualifying inmates out of our jails,” West said in an email.
“The point is to reduce the number of inmates so there is less chance of COVID-19 exposure to both staff and inmate.”
COVID-19 is another way of saying coronavirus.
The Star then asked what guarantees Hall could make that these inmates won’t commit crimes once they’re out.
“Those who are placed on the expanded PTR will be monitored by sheriff’s office PTR case management like all the other participants,” West said.
Hall explained his plans further in his press release.
“I am working with Chief Public Defender Martesha Johnson by providing her lists of medically high-risk individuals who may qualify for release, including pregnant inmates,” Hall said.
“As sheriff, I am working to reduce the number of individuals in our custody and it’s imperative all criminal justice leaders do the same.”
The press release went on to say that while many in the system work toward necessary releases, misdemeanor arrests have increased over the past two weeks. Hall said “we must take bold action and the system cannot continue to operate under a business as usual mindset.”
“As stated last week, we fully expect to have COVID-19 positive cases in our facilities. It’s critical we reduce the inmate population now,” Hall said.
“As criminal justice leaders we need to take action because of the serious impact this virus will have on sheriff’s office staff and inmates.”
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