Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Ohio Jail Releases Hundreds To Protect Them from Coronavirus Despite No Known Cases

Do you know what we need during a national emergency? More alleged criminals out on the streets.
This is apparently the lesson we’re supposed to take away from officials in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, the jurisdiction in which the city of Cleveland is located. Ohio’s second-most populous county has decided to release hundreds of inmates from the Cuyahoga County jail over COVID-19 fears.
Here’s the thing — not a single person in the jail was known to be infected.
According to WJW-TV, judges on the Cuyahoga County Court were concerned that the virus might quickly spread in the facility.
“Judges held a special Saturday morning session to settle cases with guilty pleas, release inmates, send them to prison or release them on house arrest,” WJW reported.
Earlier in the week, Administrative Judge Brendan Sheehan told the station many of the inmates were in poor health, which he said made it a potential breeding ground for COVID-19.
According to CNN, more than 200 inmates were released from the jail out of a population of 1,970.
Almost any kind of inmate was up for release as well.
“You gotta remember, the goal of this is to protect the community and the safety of the inmates,” Sheehan said.
“If someone’s a serious violent person, well, we’re using our discretion to make sure the community’s safe also,” he said.
Sheehan also said he was making room for a possible quarantine.
“We are trying to make as much room as possible, so when this virus hits our jail, the jail can deal with these people, quarantine them and deal with it instead of letting them sit there and infect the whole entire jail,” he said.
Again, zero cases in the jail. There were 50 confirmed cases in the state as of Monday, and Gov. Mike DeWine had suspended the state’s primary, but that’s it.
Surprisingly, Sheehan and his squad are less liberal on this than “squad” member Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts.
Somehow, in between the time he spends ministering to his sick and housebound flock during this no doubt trying COVID-19 crisis, noted cleric the Rev. Al Sharpton managed to tape a TV show for MSNBC on Saturday in which Pressley was a guest. During her appearance, the first-term congresswoman said prisoners should be given compassionate release — and she was advocating for it with two fellow squad members and another liberal Democrat.
“This pandemic, COVID-19, has certainly highlighted and exacerbated every socio, ratio, political fault line in our country,” Pressley said.
“And I’m just advocating to make sure that when we are talking about those that are most vulnerable, our low-income residents and citizens, those experiencing homelessness, our seniors, that we are also including the incarcerated men and women, who are certainly amongst one of the most vulnerable populations.
“And given the crowding and overpopulating in our prisons for a confluence of other reasons that we won’t get into in this interview … are an ecosystem in a petri dish for the spreading of this pandemic, which is why I partnered with my colleagues, Reps. [Nydia] Velasquez, [Alexandria] Ocasio-Cortez, and [Rashida] Tlaib, to lobby the Bureau of Prisons to use their full power and to communicate guidance for how we will contain and mitigate this epidemic behind the wall.”
She went on to ask whether prisoners had been tested for coronavirus and what the quarantine measures were.
The amazing thing is that this stance isn’t much different from Pressley’s default position. In other words, she and others are using coronavirus as an excuse to push policy positions. Never let a good crisis go to waste.
Saying that this is problematic isn’t for a lack of compassion for prisoners. If someone doesn’t need to be in prison, he shouldn’t be. The problem is that, as we’ve seen in many disastrous bail reform initiatives — a new favorite cause of the left — the people who often pursue this sort of thing under the aegis of criminal justice reform have a different definition of who needs to be behind bars than, say, reality does.
This is what panic looks like. Hasty, quick pleas to get jailed people back out on the street aren’t necessarily going to help anything — especially when and if the first of these individuals is arrested for something unseemly and we have the opposite argument.
Cuyahoga County isn’t alone. In Los Angeles, they’re reducing arrests from an average of 300 a day to 60 because of coronavirus. This is somehow supposed to keep people safe.
“We’re protecting the public and the safety of the inmates,” Sheehan told CNN. “That’s really our goal.”
I wouldn’t be quite so sure about that first part, judge. With no known cases in the jail and 200 inmates back out on the street after quickie pleas or house arrest arrangements, this might mean a small portion of the inmate population is less likely to get COVID-19, a disease no one in the prison had tested positive for. (Sorry about the other 1,700 still in there.)

As for the rest of the residents of Cuyahoga County, I’d like him to explain how this makes them safer.

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