The inmate population at the Montgomery County Jail is climbing after a dramatic decrease during the early weeks of the coronavirus pandemic.
About 650 inmates are inside the jail now, lower by more than 200 inmates on average before COVID-19. However, that figure is higher than in March when there were about 450 inmates.
Montgomery County Sheriff Rob Streck said the number continues to creep upward.
Streck previously asked area law enforcement departments to consider alternatives to booking suspects into jail, and he says that he continues to ask departments to evaluate all options, like issuing citations or court summonses, before deciding to put someone in jail.
Since the coronavirus outbreak, health experts have said that jailed inmates are especially vulnerable to COVID-19. Captive populations such as inmates could be at risk of an outbreak as they are forced to live within close quarters.
The more inmates inside the jail, the tougher it is for jail staff and inmates to practice precautions, Major Jeremy Roy said.
“The least amount of population we have in there, there are more things we can implement inside the facility to help reduce the transmission of COVID. The more bodies you have in there, you can’t even do the simple task of social distancing,” he said.
There is currently one person with COVID-19 in the jail, Streck said. He wants to keep that number as low as possible.
“As far as the health and safety of my inmates and my staff, obviously, the lower numbers we have, the better off we are,” Streck told the Dayton Daily News. “So yes, we continue to ask the police departments, the probation officers, parole officers and the judges, if there are people they can get out of there, we greatly appreciate it.”
However, Streck said the jail is open and public safety is always the top priority. If a law enforcement official believes someone needs to be arrested, the jail is accepting inmates.
Streck said the inmate population began to rise about the same time when things began reopening. He said the majority of the inmates inside are booked in on more than a non-violent misdemeanor, and judges are continuing to review cases as they come to determine if the suspect should stay jailed or be freed while awaiting trial.
The only suspects the jail will not accept currently are those who have out-of-county warrants that are non-violent offenders and those who are medically refused.
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