State Leaders Tell Local Officials To Decide On Releasing County Jail Inmates

Apr 5, 2020

State leaders from all three branches of government say local criminal justice officials should decide how to handle inmates in county jails during the COVID-19 crisis.
Credit (FILE PHOTO: Steve Burns) / WTIU

State leaders from all three branches of government say local criminal justice officials should decide how to handle inmates in county jails during the COVID-19 crisis.

Gov. Eric Holcomb, Chief Justice Loretta Rush, Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray (R-Martinsville) and House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers) released a joint letter to local officials Friday.

That letter acknowledges the greater risk of COVID-19 spread within confined settings, including jails. And because of that risk, the state leaders say local judges, sheriffs and justice partners need to decide for themselves whether to release “low-risk, non-violent” juveniles and offenders into their communities – with supervision.

Those decisions, the letter says, should be based on local resources and capacity, local health decisions and community support, and the individual offenders themselves. “No Indiana-size solution would fit all,” the guidance says.

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Holcomb, Rush, Bray and Huston said, “this is not a question of being soft on crime or criminals,” but about adjusting to the unprecedented public health crisis.

Indiana hasn’t taken any steps on early or temporary release from state-run prisons.

Contact Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

This is a rapidly evolving story, and we are working hard to bring you the most up-to-date information. However, we recommend checking the websites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Indiana State Department of Health for the most recent numbers of COVID-19 cases.