COVID-19 frees people who probably didn’t need to be in jail anyway

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When the headline on the press release emphasizes how we’re dramatically reducing the jail population due to COVID-19, you have to ask the question: if it’s that easy to let them out now, do these people need to be in jail in the first place?

“We are facing an unprecedented public health emergency, which has required us to work collaboratively to develop unique solutions,” Gov. Ralph Northam said Friday, touting his administration’s ongoing efforts to release low-level offenders from local and regional jails.

“Criminal justice stakeholders across the Commonwealth are using the tools available to them to decrease our jail population and address this crisis responsibly, humanely, and deliberatively. This is exactly the type of cooperation we need, and I commend our public safety officials and urge them to continue these important efforts.”

According to a press release from the governor’s office, the Virginia jail population, as of April 7, was 24,000, down 17 percent from where it was on March 1.

The number of new commitments, meanwhile, is down approximately 10,000 from late February, a 67 percent decline.

“Governor Northam called on local officials to work together to safely reduce our jail population, and this early and aggressive effort is clearly working,” Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran said. “Localities are taking these recommendations seriously, and I expect them to continue making decisions with the public safety of their communities in mind.”

We might want to remember this when things get back to normal, which they will, eventually.

Story by Chris Graham

augusta free press news