More than 300 inmates of the Montgomery County Jail accused of non-violent crimes have been released since the coronavirus outbreak.
Montgomery County Sheriff Rob Streck said he’s also asked his deputies and surrounding police departments to not arrest and book suspects of non-violent misdemeanor crimes in jail. Instead, they are being asked to resolve the matters in other ways —- like with a ticket or court summons.
Streck said domestic violence suspects are being arrested and booked into jail.
There are now about 500 inmates incarcerated at the jail, Streck said, much lower than usual.
“The majority are violent felons and people who the judges, probation and parole believe should not be released,” Streck said.
Since the coronavirus outbreak, health experts have said that jailed inmates are especially vulnerable. It’s thought captive inmate populations could be at risk of an outbreak as they are forced to live within close quarters. Last week, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine ordered that visitors be barred from the jail in an attempt to stem the spread.
Jails across the Miami Valley have started new cleaning routines and implemented new rules to keep their jails sanitized throughout the crisis.
Streck said each inmate was thoroughly reviewed by a judge or probation office before being released.
“I believe that the people being released have been vetted to the point that if those individuals who are making those decisions are comfortable, then I feel comfortable,” the sheriff said.
Jail bookings data obtained by the Dayton Daily News show a significant decrease in jail bookings over the last couple weeks. In early March, it wasn’t uncommon for the jail to book 40 to 70 inmates a day.
Between March 21 and March 24, that number has been in the teens or below. On March 22, 11 people were booked into jail, according to jail records.
Streck said a big reason for this is the jail is no longer accepting suspects with warrants from outside of Montgomery County with a few exceptions.
“My agency pulls someone over from the other county, we will contact that county and see if they want to meet up and transfer custody,” Streck said. “Most times, because warrants are usually traffic, the other agency says come to the courts and take care of it after all this is over.”
He said the move was made because other jails were refusing to come pick up their inmates due to new coronavirus policies they have implemented themselves.
Those with warrants for violent crimes can be booked into the Montgomery County Jail as normal, Streck said.
The sheriff said he hopes to get the number of inmates down into the 400’s soon. He said the total has gone down consistently since March 16, and he hopes the number will continue to fall as suspects either are sent to prison or complete their jail sentences.
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