Coronavirus: County in Florida is releasing some inmates from jail to stop virus spread

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HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office is releasing some inmates from its jail to help prevent the spread of coronavirus,

Sheriff Chad Chronister said 164 low-level, non-violent offenders in the Orient Road Jail and the Falkenburg Road Jail are being released from custody to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus to inmates, detention deputies, civilian staff members, and their families.

“These defendants are the lowest public safety risk and many were merely sitting in jail because they could not afford to pay the amount it would take to bond out,” said Chronister. “These defendants will still have to answer for the criminal charges against them.”

“They will still answer for the crimes they committed,” he added.

The sheriff’s office has taken other steps to protect inmates, such as closing lobbies in both of its jails, suspending video visitation for families and bringing in professionals to disinfect its facilities.

Both jails have begun screening new inmates for travel history and flagging anyone with flu-like symptoms.

“As your Sheriff, there is nothing I take more seriously than public safety and protecting our community,” said Sheriff Chad Chronister. “In times of crisis, like the health crisis we are facing, agencies around the country are finding ways to balance public safety and the health of their employees and neighbors. We are no different.”

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