A Prince George’s County District Court judge on Thursday granted the release of 50 nonviolent inmates from the county jail in an attempt to stem the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy sought to decrease the jail’s population in Upper Marlboro in order to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. There have been no confirmed cases at the jail, which holds more than 700 people at capacity, though only 80 are currently in custody.
“We will consider cases in which individuals are charged with low-level, nonviolent offences or have a short time left on their sentence,” Braveboy said in a statement. “Our goal is to safely and judiciously reduce the inmate population considering the public health crisis caused by the coronavirus.”
Braveboy spokeswoman Denise Roberts said the 50 inmates were held on pretrial charges. Once the inmates are released, where they will reside will be handled on a case-by-case basis, she said.
More cases will be examined.
Roughly 35 miles away in Baltimore, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby has called for similar measures, instructing prosecutors to immediately release and dismiss the cases of those who “pose no threat to public safety” and face nonviolent charges such as prostitution, minor traffic offenses and attempted distribution of drugs.
Mosby signed a letter Wednesday with 30 other state’s attorneys to not only release certain incarcerated people, but also provide health care measures for inmates and jail and prison employees.
She also addressed a letter to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan calling for the release of certain inmates to avoid spreading the virus in confined spaces.
“As prosecutors, we are committed to protecting the safety and well-being of everyone in our community, and that includes people who are currently in prison or jail,” Mosby said in a statement. “I firmly believe that we can promote public health and public safety at the same time, and that’s what these new policies will achieve.”
Hogan said at a press conference Thursday in Annapolis he hasn’t yet seen any proposals to release inmates.
“The people that are in our correctional facilities are kind of protected and in quarantine,” he said. “They’re safer where they are. I’m not sure that’s a great idea.”