Area jails releasing inmates to prevent COVID-19 outbreak behind bars

Virginia News

Pamunkey Regional Jail is releasing some non-violent offenders to prevent COVID-19 from getting into the jail.

The jail superintendent, Colonel James Willett, said they have already done this for six people who had less than two weeks to serve. Offenders are put on home electronic monitoring. 

In addition, Willett told 8News they have compiled of list of offenders who have 90 days left or less to serve and are asking judges and the commonwealth’s attorney to allow them to be released on home electronic monitoring. The list includes only non-violent inmates, those in jail on DUI’s, petit larceny, trespassing and probation violations. The jail expects to learn how many can be released later this week.

The move comes after Virginia’s Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran urged jails, judges and prosecutors to consider alternatives to incarceration in the midst of the Coronavirus outbreak. Secretary Moran also called on law enforcement to consider a summons instead of a custodial arrest when possible.

The Richmond Justice Center is also looking to release some inmates on home electronic incarceration. Major Stacey Bagby with the Richmond Sheriff’s Office tells 8News, “We are preparing a list for the Commonwealth consisting of those individuals with less than 60 days and those 60 years or over.” Releases are done  in conjunction with the courts and the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office .

Henrico County’s Sheriff Alisa Gregory confirmed to 8News the Henrico jail has also been working with judge’s, commonwealth attorneys and defense attorney to divert some people who are currently incarcerated. The jail is using GPS monitoring for bonding and home electronic monitoring.

Specifically, the jail is looking at non-violent inmates who have 30-45 days remaining on their sentences.  The commonwealth’s attorney and the courts must sign off before any inmate is released.

Meanwhile, Chesterfield County Jail has not pursued the early release of inmates. Jail administrator, Major Jim Pritchett says, “The jail must remain open for our law enforcement partners at the Chesterfield County Police Department, Virginia State Police, and other agencies who utilize our facility daily.”

Pritchett also told 8News soon after learning about COVID-19 the jail immediately put precautionary measures into place to mitigate the potential for transfer of the virus. Those precautions include restricting access to the facility, screening essential personnel who enter our facility and greatly reducing internal movement of inmates.

For more coronavirus coverage, click here.

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