03/24/20: Criminal justice advocates urge reduction of jail population, and other updates from Tuesd
Criminal justice advocates urge reduction of jail population, and other updates from Tuesday, March 24
Nashville TennesseanPublished 5:00 a.m. CT March 24, 2020 | Updated 7:56 a.m. CT March 27, 2020
CONNECTTWEETLINKEDINCOMMENTEMAILMORE The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a pandemic. Reported illnesses range from very mild to severe, including death. Agencies anticipate widespread transmission will occur in the U.S. in coming months and recommend social distancing among other measures to slow the spread. Call your doctor and stay home if you are sick. Get more information at CDC.gov/coronavirus or contact the Tennessee Department of Health coronavirus information line at 877-857-2945 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. CT daily. We'll have all the news from Tuesday below — as always, for free, because we want to share this vital information with our community. To support our efforts, consider a digital subscription to the Tennessean. Friday, March 27 updates:: State to get up to $3 billion in federal relief Criminal justice advocates urge reduction of jail population Former Nashville public defender Dawn Deaner and dozens of criminal justice reform groups on Tuesday asked the Tennessee Supreme Court to blunt the spread of the coronavirus by dramatically shrinking jail and prison populations. In an emergency motion to the high court, Deaner and the reform groups argued jails and prisons are potential hotbeds for COVID-19 outbreaks because many of them are overcrowded and unsanitary. Courts have "a moral obligation" to protect incarcerated people from those conditions, the motion read, because inmates "are unable to protect themselves from exposure to the coronavirus due to the inherent conditions inside jails, detention centers, and prisons." The motion argued that the Tennessee Supreme Court should issue a wide-ranging order that would slash inmate rosters. Thousands of inmates who met a series of recommended criteria should be released "unless the State can demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that the person’s release would endanger the safety of a particular person or persons in the community," the groups wrote. The recommendations included releasing all misdemeanor offenders in jails, inmates who are deemed high-risk because of their age or health, and all juvenile detainees on delinquency charges. Get the Coronavirus Watch newsletter in your inbox. Updates on how the coronavirus is affecting your community and the nation Delivery: Varies Your Email The motion further argued that the high court should order a dramatic expansion of pre-trial releases, parole and probation. Parole should be applied to anyone within three years of their release date, anyone who has reached eligibility and anyone who has served at least 25 years of their sentences.