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Crime Coronavirus in NJ: Up to 1,000 inmates to be released from jails

17:02  23 march  2020
17:02  23 march  2020 Source:   app.com

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New Jersey Chief Justice Stuart Rabner late Sunday signed an order calling for the temporary release of up to 1,000 inmates serving sentences in county jails, to mitigate the risk of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

a bench in front of a brick building: Monmouth County Jail, Freehold Township. (Photo by Joseph Sapia) © Asbury Park Press Monmouth County Jail, Freehold Township. (Photo by Joseph Sapia)

The order, which formalizes an agreement among the New Jersey Public Defender’s Office, state Attorney General’s Office, County Prosecutors Association and American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, calls for the release no later than 6 a.m. Tuesday of inmates who are serving county jail terms as a condition of probation or as a result of municipal court convictions.

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No later than noon Thursday, any inmate serving county jail sentences for any other reason, including violations of probation, low-level indictable crimes, disorderly persons and petty disorderly persons offenses, will be released, the order said.

All of the Asbury Park Press coverage of the coronavirus is being provided free for our readers. Please consider supporting local journalism by subscribing to the Press at APP.com/subscribe.

The custodial portions of the sentences are suspended until further order of the court , once the public health emergency declared by Gov. Phil Murphy amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic is rescinded. That means that released inmates would finish their jail terms when the emergency is over, unless their sentences are commuted.

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The ACLU said in a statement that the order affects up to 1,000 inmates statewide.

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"Jails shall process the release of inmates as efficiently as possible, understanding that neither immediate nor simultaneous release is feasible,'' the chief justice's order said.

It contains provisions for county prosecutors or the attorney general to object to release of certain inmates by explaining how their release would pose a safety risk.

The order resulted from mediation that began after New Jersey Public Defender Joseph Krakora last week petitioned the state Supreme Court to order the release of certain inmates. It coincides with reports of an outbreak of COVID-19 cases at New York City's Rikers Island, where 21 inmates and 17 employees have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

The parties to the negotiations in New Jersey "reviewed certifications form healthcare professionals regarding the profound risk posed to people in correctional facilities arising from the spread of COVID-19,'' Rabner's order said. The parties agreed that reducing county jail populations is in the public interest, it said.

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"Unprecedented times call for rethinking the normal way of doing things, and in this case, it means releasing people who pose little risk to their communities for the sake of public health and the dignity of people who are incarcerated,'' said Amol Sinha, executive director of the ACLU of New Jersey. “This is truly a landmark agreement, and one that should be held up for all states dealing with the current public health crisis.''

Prosecutors have until 5 p.m. today to file objections to the release of any inmates who are serving jail terms as a condition of probation, and until 8 a.m. Thursday to file objections to the release of inmates serving jail sentences for any other reasons.

This is a breaking news story. Please check back later for more details.

Kathleen Hopkins, a reporter in New Jersey since 1985, covers crime, court cases, legal issues, unsolved mysteries and just about every major murder trial to hit Monmouth and Ocean counties. Contact her at khopkins@app.com

This article originally appeared on Asbury Park Press: Coronavirus in NJ: Up to 1,000 inmates to be released from jails

Harris County to release about 1,000 'non-violent' inmates, calling jail a 'ticking time bomb' .
Calling the Harris County Jail a "ticking time bomb," County Judge Lina Hidalgo said about 1,000 "non-violent" inmates will be released. Hidalgo said this drastic action is necessary so they can practice social distancing to stop help stop the spread of coronavirus inside the jail. One Harris County inmate has tested positive for COVID-19. "New cases will spread like wildfire if we don't take quick action," Hidalgo said Tuesday. She will issue aOne Harris County inmate has tested positive for COVID-19.

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