St. Joseph County, Indiana Jail Decreasing Amount Of Inmates Amid Coronavirus Crisis
There are fewer inmates in the St. Joseph County, Indiana jail today than in past months. That's because of precautions county officials are taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the jail.
The fewer people in jail, the less of a risk there is to spreading the coronavirus among inmates and employees. It also creates space within the jail to keep a distance between inmates and for quarantine if needed.
County Sheriff Bill Redman said in mid-March, there were about 615 inmates and as of Monday that number was 466.
“God forbid we have anyone test positive or we have an outbreak of COVID-19 in our jail, whether it’s inmates or staff members. That would make it extremely difficult to maintain safety and security for our staff and the inmates.”
Redman said police officers haven’t been making as many immediate arrests for misdemeanors and non violent crimes. Instead, they’ve been doing more long-form arrests to help limit the amount of people in jail at one time.
Prosecutor Ken Cotter said misdemeanor charges are down by 20 percent in the County this year. He said the county also released some non-violent inmates waiting for court and those who are more at risk of getting COVID-19.
“People are not getting away with crimes. Because of this pandemic is it better for us to say ‘let’s take the chance that maybe they won’t come back’ and go ahead and release them now.”
Cotter said those who commited violent crimes are still being held in jail and are not being considered for release.
"Basically it’s a re-review of the original determination that caused them to be in jail in the first place because there’s an added factor. That factor being the coronavirus.”
There are currently no positive cases of COVID-19 in the St. Joseph County Jail.
Contact Annacaroline at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @AnnacarolineC16
If you appreciate this kind of journalism on your local NPR station, please support it by donating at: https://wvpe.