Coronavirus

Ohio Governor Says State Will Seek Release of Some Inmates in Response to Coronavirus

The state will seek the release of nearly 200 inmates who are either at risk or nearing their release dates anyway in response to COVID-19.

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Ohio's Republican Gov. Mike DeWine announced today that the state will seek the release of nearly 200 inmates to decrease the risk of COVID-19 spreading throughout the state prison system.

DeWine said his administration will ask the state's correctional institution inspection committee to grant release to 141 inmates whose release dates are under 90 days away. The 141 inmates are all housed in minimum-security prisons, and DeWine said the state screened out those convicted of violence, sex crimes, and other serious felonies, as well as those incarcerated for a second time.

 "Social distancing in prison is difficult," DeWine said. "Murderers, sexual predators, people like that we're not going to let out." 

DeWine also announced the state will be recommending the release of 26 inmates who are 60 or older who have underlying medical conditions.

That is a minuscule number compared to the roughly 49,000 inmates incarcerated in Ohio state prisons, but it is an acknowledgment that COVID-19 presents a grave threat to jail and prison systems, where close quarters and poor sanitation make them an ideal disease vector.

Over the weekend, the state announced that 10 inmates and 27 staff members at Ohio prisons have tested positive for the virus.

DeWine has already asked judges to consider early release for several dozen elderly and pregnant inmates.

Criminal justice advocacy groups have been calling on states and counties to decarcerate as much as possible to avoid deadly outbreaks inside jails and prisons.

"Governor DeWine's leadership in safely reducing the prison population during this unprecedented pandemic should serve as an example for governors across the country," Holly Harris, executive director of the Justice Action Network, said in a statement. "We hope the saying holds true that 'as goes Ohio, so does the country.' Lives depend on it."

U.S. Attorney General William Barr has directed the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to identify elderly and at-risk inmates who can be transferred early into home confinement. So far, the BOP says it has approved than 500 inmates for early transfer. Barr also directed federal prosecutors to consider COVID-19 risk when seeking bail.

California announced plans to release as many as 3,500 inmates early over the next two months.

Although DeWine has commutation powers, the process is lengthy. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has also claimed he has few options to quickly release inmates in state prisons.

Likewise, Georgia requires that prosecutors be provided a 90-day notice before an inmate can be released, meaning even those inmates that are granted medical reprieve, such as a female inmate dying of cancer, might not get out before it's too late.

Civil liberties and criminal justice groups have turned to the judiciary to try and work around some of these restrictions. Groups filed lawsuits in several places—Louisiana, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.—seeking the immediate release of inmates due to the COVID-19 threat. 

As Reason's Scott Shackford reported, California's judicial system announced temporary regulations on Monday to limit human interaction within the criminal justice system, including setting bail at $0 for most misdemeanor and low-level felony cases.

NEXT: Unable To Handle Criticism of Coronavirus Stimulus Waste, Trump Fires Another Watchdog

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  1. I am certain Reason will be reporting on the recidivism rates of all these released convicts. As soon as they get back to illegal aliens, hookers, strippers, and coke dealers who need our help.

    1. No no… all these prisoners have jobs lined up during the lockdown.

    2. I am sorry you live in constant fear of the elderly.

  2. Although DeWine has commutation powers, the process is lengthy. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has also claimed he has few options to quickly release inmates in state prisons.

    Likewise, Georgia requires that prosecutors be provided a 90-day notice before an inmate can be released, meaning even those inmates that are granted medical reprieve, such as a female inmate dying of cancer, might not get out before it’s too late.

    And to think that some people scoff at the idea of a Deep State, high-level bureaucrats that really run the government despite whichever figureheads the peasants elect to be their “leaders”.

  3. Prison workers have a conundrum here. Over-incarceration keeps them in jobs. However now that the country has gotten firmly addicted to imprisoning its population, overcrowded facilities are putting staff at personal risk and thinning that prison population is giving law and order America the DT’s.

    1. Just would like to point out that most prisons run understaffed. Even if we didnt have as many people they would still have need for more people.

      1. “as many people incarcerated” left that out.

      2. Criminal justice is big business. Understaffed or not, prisons are only a part of that industry that benefits. In fact, I imagine attorneys, prosecutors, parole officers, law enforcement agents, court workers, judges, treatment facilitators, etc. are all lamenting right now the human widgets that must pass in front of them on the conveyor belt in their criminal justice factory in order for them to get paid.

        1. I guess i didnt make my point at all. My bad. We definitely need to change our system. A good first start would be drug decriminalization. Unless there was violence involved the gov has no right to imprison those people. I thought i read drug related incarceration is about 40-45 %. But even if that changed we still need prisons and all the people that go with it. Even in a libertarian society we need to have ways of separating dangerous people from soviety. Since our modern way of punishment is separation from society, prisons and the whole system are integral to to that. People also find stable employment in the prison system. And yes it sucks having to deal with these people just to get paid but alot of people have a similarity of people parading before them at their job. I worked as a corrections officer for a time.

          1. For a time, England sent criminals to Australia. Maybe we could do that.
            Now, if the Australians object, we could use them (the criminals, not the Australians) to colonize Mars.

            1. How about Greenland instead?

          2. The entire criminal justice system seems to even the casual observer set up to make certain those caught up in it for whatever offense fail, thus guaranteeing a constant supply. I am not blaming individual prison workers but through prison (and police) union lobbying efforts, real reform is a impossibility.

            1. This is where you lose me. The people going to jail for robbery, murder, rape, etc. They failed society. Why should those people expect help when they caused others suffering. We have the power of free will and can choose our actions. Choose poorly and you will nit be rewarded.

    1. Probably for the best.
      His rant was… unwise

    2. What a clusterfuck. Modley fires Crozier for publicly announcing that a big chunk of the active US naval deterrence is out of commission by publicly announcing that the US naval command is so inept that they promote stupid and/or naive people to operate their frontline naval deterrence. Modley did the exact same thing he just got done firing Crozier for!

      I still suspect that Crozier knew exactly what he was doing, that he knew he was going to take a bullet for not properly following the chain of command and keeping this within proper channels, and that the reason he did this is because he had indeed followed the chain of command and had indeed kept this within proper channels and had gotten nowhere with it. What do you do if you follow proper procedure in trying to report a problem and nobody responds to your distress signal? Just shrug it off and say “Oh well, I tried” and move on? Or do you say “I tried following the rules and the rules got me nowhere so now it’s time to break the rules”?

      1. Time will vindicate him, small consolation that it is. I went to Gen. William Mitchell High School, in the city that now hosts the USAFA. Billy Mitchell’s story is similar.

    3. >>I am appointing current Army Undersecretary Jim McPherson as acting Secretary of the Navy

      gonna confuse the football game.

      1. Considering how bad Army played last year in the game…

        1. Navy beat us (Kansas State) in the Liberty Bowl too

    4. Interesting point I’d read about Modly’s rant/speech was that it was really aimed at the rest of the Navy i.e.: 1) Things might get stupid real soon with China, and you all will be facing greater risks to your life than what COVID has in store, and 2) Even with those greater risks, you all are expected to follow the chain of command and your orders. Even if it means the loss of people you love and respect.

      Still profoundly lacking in judgment to give that kind of talk over the 1MC, with those kinds of personal insults directed at Captain Crozier. And it ended up biting him.

      1. You make good points.
        Doesn’t seem necessary to personally insult a guy who was, by all accounts, a good and popular officer

        1. How I’d heard it described was that it was a perfectly appropriate tone for a closed wardroom/goat locker type meeting. Crozier did take a big shit on the Navy’s classification scheme for reporting these sorts of readiness issues, even if it were for very good reasons. It’s the sort of thing that can’t happen again. Ideally, this would mean the carrier strike group commander on up the chain will start listening to the carrier commander when he tells them of a problem that could mission kill the carrier for a month, and maybe kill some crew, but baby steps…

          Reaming out a very popular commander in public to the crew at large, OTOH, not so smart. There are ways to tell the troops to suck it up and follow orders, without telling them they’re a bunch of crybabies over their captain getting relieved.

    5. I’m not familiar with the mechanics of operating a large nuclear fleet.

      I’d presume that we have to keep most of the fleet afloat to be able to threaten Mutually Assured Destruction against nuclear-armed rivals.

      If a disease threatens to turn these ships into floating coffins, is it feasible, on a rotating basis, to have the ships dock while infected crew members undergo quarantine procedures?

      The other question is, whatever is the best course, what are the chances that the President and the brass will choose that best course? If they don’t, can a lone captain alert the public? What will potential enemies learn at the same time as the public?

      This issue seems to require a bit of specialized knowledge, but I’m going to assume for the moment that the captain did some useful whistleblowing albeit potentially endangering security and the chain of command. But if it’s just one smudge on an otherwise stellar career, then by all means cut him some slack and use it as a teachable moment, and don’t publicly insult him in a viral video.

      I’m still sympathetic to the idea of sunlight as the best disinfectant – in this case perhaps literally.

      1. “I’m not familiar with the mechanics of operating a large nuclear fleet.
        I’d presume that we have to keep most of the fleet afloat to be able to threaten Mutually Assured Destruction against nuclear-armed rivals.”

        I don’t have special knowledge or credentials in this area, but I don’t think a carrier group has much to do with nuclear deterrence.
        MAD would be taken care of by the triad: boomers (subs), ICBMs, and B2s (which aren’t carrier borne)

        1. I believe the “nuclear” in “nuclear fleet” refers to the power source of the ships/carriers, not armament

        2. They used to be nuclear arms capable. Everything from nuclear tipped Sam’s, to nuclear depth charges/torpedoes, to air dropped nuclear bombs. Got rid of all of it because of a nuclear arms limitation treaty. I think it was INF or START, but I’m not sure. Now, probably thinking about putting them back on. At least the B-61s, and if they’re serious about an ABM role, some nukes to go on the ends of SM-3s.

          Nevertheless, regardless of whether they carry nuclear weapons or not, carriers are definitely strategic assets. They are the main way the USN projects power over a wide region. Subs can kill ships, land based patrol aircraft can search wide swaths of ocean, and Burkes/Ticos can be very good at killing other ships and planes when they aren’t running into each other, but the carrier is the only practical way the USN can project air power onto land or a ~1000 nm wide bubble of sea.

          There’s a reason other countries with aspirations of global power projection, try to build the things.

  4. https://amp.theatlantic.com/amp/article/609532/

    I mean its not like they were trying thg o impeach trump of anything. Oh wait they were. I guess i would worry about that first.

    1. “This Is Trump’s Fault”

      Like most of the media, this is probably the motto they want on the masthead.

  5. COVID-19 presents a grave threat to jail and prison systems, where close quarters and poor sanitation make them an ideal disease vector.

    While their is no doubt about the close quarters, lockdown procedures vastly limit those problems, but would be unpleasant for most inmates. The sanitation complaint is not true, however, for any well run institution. Daily chore lists keep quads, pods, and cellblocks clean, are mandatory, and could easily have disinfecting added- but is probably already included.
    The last time I went to jail, decades ago in my wild years, the showers were disinfected twice a day, and the toilets about 4 times.

    1. The warden and guards may be doing their best to maintain sanitary standards, but a few inmates can do a lot to sabotage that.

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