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Coronavirus prompts wave of prisoner releases

Video credit: Reuters Studio
Published on March 26, 2020 - Duration: 01:51s

Coronavirus prompts wave of prisoner releases

The rapid spread of coronavirus is piling pressure on the U.S. criminal justice system and has led to a flood of inmate releases.

Yahaira Jacquez reports.

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Coronavirus prompts wave of prisoner releases

Amid fears that the coronavirus would wreak havoc on jails, counties and states across the nation have taken the drastic step of releasing 'low risk' inmates.

This week, the Sacramento Sheriff's office said it would release more than 400 inmates who have 60 days or less remaining on their sentence, according to a local news station.

Sergeant Tess Deterding - spokesperson for the Sacramento County Sheriff's Office - says they're doing all they can to keep inmates safe.

(SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) SGT.

TESS DETERDING, SACRAMENTO COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE PIO SAYING: "We already have those plans in place to deal with a COVID-19, so this does feel over and beyond what's necessary at this point." Across the country, in New Jersey, up to 1,000 inmates were expected to exit county jails this week under an order issued by New Jersey Chief Justice Stuart Rabner.

Prisons are scrambling to safeguard a population living in close quarters and one that includes many people with underlying medical problems. On Thursday, U.S. Attorney General William Barr said he has directed the federal Bureau of Prisons to expand its use of home confinement for inmates in appropriate cases.

He also said that nationwide, a total of 6 inmates and four prison staffers have tested positive for COVID-19, adding that several federal facilities including two in New York City are now on lockdown as a result.

This week, one of the most famous inmates, Harvey Weinstein, tested positive for the virus.

Following the diagnosis, he was transferred to a maximum security prison in upstate New York, where he is now under quarantine.

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