Sheriff Neil releases non-violent offenders, inmate population ‘significantly reduced’

Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil discusses coronavirus response

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil held a press conference Friday to discuss their response to COVID-19.

Neil said jail space at the Hamilton County Justice Center has been significantly reduced to 1,021.

“We were able to release misdemeanor inmates and non-violent offenders unable to make bond,” he said.

Neil said there were rumors of a mass release, but expressed that is not the case.

“We will be working with medical professionals to identify at-risk inmates and prioritize for release under court order. Then will assess other inmates eligible for release and consult with the prosecutor’s office,” he said.

Neil said they have suspended several programs and services, stopped inmate visits and limited all professional visits to non-contact in order to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

He also said all new prisoners who enter get their temperature checked, newly arrested offenders who have symptoms are masked immediately and monitored and inmates in general population who develop symptoms are quarantined in their cells.

To keep inmates at a safe distance, Neil said they are pretty close to single cell capacity.

On Thursday, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine confirmed the state has 119 confirmed cases of the virus, with no reported deaths.

According to Dr. Amy Acton, the illness onset range is Feb. 7 to March 18 and is impacting 25 counties in the state.

Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor is urging local courts to consider releasing COVID-19 high-risk prisoners from local jails and said courts must remain open to do essential functions and to address emergency and time-sensitive matters.

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