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80 inmates released from Jackson County jail due to COVID-19 concerns

JACKSON COUNTY, MO (KCTV) — Eighty inmates are out of jail tonight in Jackson County because of COVID-19 concerns.

Just yesterday, Missouri public defenders sent a letter to the Missouri Supreme Court requesting that certain inmates be released statewide, calling jails and prisons “ticking time bombs” during a pandemic.

The sheriff and a spokesperson for the prosecutor’s office said only people charged with nonviolent offenses will be considered for release during the pandemic.

KCTV5 met with one woman, who asked that we not reveal her identity, after she was released from the Jackson County Detention Center. She said she was in custody because of a probation hold for an identity theft charge. She said inmates watched the news to learn about the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You never know,” she said. “You hear somebody cough or sneeze and it’s like, ‘Ahhh!’ You know, go get bleach and spray it everywhere.”

Today, Jackson County Sheriff Darryl Forté confirmed to KCTV5 that the Office of Population Control put together a list of individuals in the jail being held on nonviolent charges only.

He said: “That list was sent to the prosecutor’s office, who shared it with the public defender’s office. Once those two groups agreed on release, it was forwarded to the courts for a release decision.”

As stated, so far 80 people were released. At last check, KCMO and Jackson County facilities held a total of 739 inmates.

Forte said, “Our development of the list was based on instructions from the Circuit Court and should in no way be construed as a recommendation for release.”

This week, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office shared photos of employees being screened before entering the detention center. Forté said that, to date, they have not had an inmate or staff member test positive for COVID-19.

Still, the woman we met said she was concerned about the virus while she was in custody and still is. She told us she was headed to a halfway house.

She said, “Not being able to go run and see my kids… I’m respecting the entire health issue, knowing that I’ve been around so many more people than they have, you know?”

The Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office sent a second list to the court for release and will continue to support release for individuals who do not pose a public safety risk.

Later on Friday, the Missouri Sheriffs’ Association and Training Academy released a statement about the 80 individuals being released from jail and said this: 

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