Minnesota Public Defender Wants Jail Inmates Released Due to COVID-19
The State of Minnesota's Public Defender's Office has been pushing for the release of jail inmates throughout the State, in order to protect them from the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Chief Public Defender Bill Ward sent an email to all staffers, urging them to get on board and demand that their clients be released. Some of the clients have not yet been convicted. He also said that the jails are a "petri dish" of infections. This looks to only impact the local and county jails, no mention of releasing inmates early from within the prison system.
This plea has come about just days after the announcement on Friday that the courts are going to be postponing several types of cases, but will continue with the high priority cases. The Minnesota federal court system announced that they will be temporarily suspending all criminal and civil trials starting March 23 through April 27.
According to the Star Tribune; The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota (ACLU) planned to write to the governor, courts and corrections officials urging them to consider releasing older inmates and those with underlying health conditions. Officials are also exploring the idea of reducing bonds for non-violent criminals or releasing them on their own recognizance. This comes at a time when a lot of court business is slowing down, in order to keep the virus from spreading and overwhelming the already overburdened health care system.
If you are called for jury duty, have a case already in progress, or have questions, reach out to your County Court Administrator. This is uncharted territory, and with the information changing and updating as frequently as it is, this could be changed as well.