After the first known case of the Coronavirus was confirmed in the federal correctional system, concerns regarding those in these establishments have risen. This has caused many states to come to the decision of releasing certain inmates, including the state of New Jersey. The state’s chief justice, Stuart Rabner, called for the release of hundreds of inmates in county jails. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Jersey estimated that the number of those released could be up to 1000 people.
The inmates that are eligible for release are those who were detained for probation violations, municipal court convictions, disorderly persons offenses, and fourth-degree or petty crimes. Inmates who were tested positive for the virus will not be released until a plan is determined by the judge for their isolation. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy stated, “My top priority is the health and safety of ALL New Jerseyans – including those who are incarcerated.”
The executive director of the ACLU, Amon Sinha, released a statement regarding the choice to release inmates. Sinha said, “Unprecedented times call for rethinking the normal way of doing things, and in this case, it means releasing people who pose little risk to their communities for the sake of public health and the dignity of people who are incarcerated.”
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