RTD: Early Prison Releases Raise Concerns – as Does Covid-19 in Virginia Prisons

From Frank Green at the Richmond Times Dispatch:

Early releases for some prison inmates by the Virginia Department of Corrections aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 behind bars is drawing concern and criticism from interested parties.

Prosecutors would like input and want to be sure it is done carefully with public safety in mind; inmate advocates fear too little is being done too slowly to avoid a potential medical catastrophe; and inmates left behind so far are not happy.

As of Friday, the department reported that 524 prisoners and 66 staff members have tested positive for the virus. Three inmates have died and 11 are currently hospitalized.

It is expected that by Friday, 70 inmates with a year or less left to serve on their sentences will have been released under a budget amendment proposed by Gov. Ralph Northam and approved by the General Assembly. Inmates who committed capital murder or violent sex offenses will not be eligible for early release, nor are those who have COVID-19.

Some 133 inmates have thus far been approved for early release based in part on their criminal records and whether they have a suitable place to go. They will be screened for COVID-19 and be given three months’ worth of medications they might require for other health problems, the department said.

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If you or a loved one is in jail or prison, and think you may be a candidate for early release or a bond motion due to Coronavirus or other reasons, contact our office for a free consultation with our attorneys Farheena Siddiqui and Brian Szmak.

The Law Office’s attorneys practice regularly in the Washington, D.C., Superior Court and across Northern Virginia jurisdictions including Arlington County, Alexandria City, Prince William County, Fairfax County, the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA), and other jurisdictions across Virginia.