WASHINGTON COUNTY, OR (KPTV) – As the COVID-19 pandemic forces major changes to our daily lives, jails are also making big changes in order to keep inmates safe, including releasing some low-level offenders.

In the past 24 hours, the Washington County Jail says it has released 121 inmates to ensure that every inmate has their own jail cell. 

“We wanted to free up the one housing unit that has dormitory type sleeping where those in custody are sleeping kind of near each other and they don’t have their own cell,” said Washington County Sheriff Pat Garrett.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office says the releases were necessary to make eliminate any chances of COVID-19 potentially spreading through the jail.

Courts were able to help by ordering the release of several inmates. Some were also able to bail out or be moved to another facility. But some inmates had to be released at the discretion of the sheriff’s office.

“It’s got to be low public safety risk and those inmates who have a possibly a compromised immune system are the priority,” Garrett said.

Garrett says he is not concerned about a safety risk with the release of these inmates because they are such low-level offenders.

The sheriff’s office is also trying to reduce the number of people who get booked into jail.

“We are limiting those who get booked into our jail to A and B felonies, those who are under arrest for domestic violence crimes, sex crimes or a violent person crime,” said Garrett.

That means for crimes like DUII or theft, those criminals may be given a citation and released back home with a court date. The jail says it may also look into more home monitoring systems in the future.

Other measures are being taken at the jail to keep inmates safe. Deputies are only serving meals inside of cells, inmate programs have been cancelled for the time being and people can only be out of their cells in groups no larger than 20 people.

It’s an unprecedented time in our country and deputies have no way of knowing how long this crisis could last.

“Things change on a daily basis, so we’re just taking it a day at a time,” Garrett said.

Copyright 2020 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

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(6) comments

Husky Loyalist

Oh good, they are leaving containment to spread the wealth among the innocents. Yet, the citizens are being forced to not exercise free association with other people and are being encourage (soon to be forced) to self imprisonment in their homes. Makes plenty of sense to the nonsensical.

Sun Tzu

'Garrett says he is not concerned about a safety risk with the release of these inmates because they are such low-level offenders.' I think he should be concerned about the safety risk. I don't normally carry, but it's starting to look like it might be time to start.

Frederick Fukov

Please, by all means..carry. It's a just another form of life insurance protection. Think about it. With schools closed, with "low level offenders" being released, with more people out of work and desperate, crime is going to spike like we've never seen before. That's why people are hoarding food. They can see where this is all headed. I've been carrying for years, and honestly, I forget it's there. The chances that I will ever need to pull and engage are almost nil. But I would much rather always have it and never fire it, then to be in a situation where the only thing that would save me, my loved ones, friends, and even total strangers, and not have it, would be the worst feeling in the world. Carry is a smart and prudent thing to do, and if you do it, it makes all of us more safe.

Mr pickles

Loud claps!!!

Charlatan

Before carrying, muscle memory needs to be strongly established. Too many people think having a gun is enough without knowing how to use it properly. So many people can hit what they're aiming at. That makes no one safer.

Just curious

[thumbup] I agree, I have also started taking my gun with me.

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