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Sheriff Neil to ID at-risk inmates, prioritize them for release in effort to stop spread of COVID-19

Posted at 9:44 AM, Mar 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-20 12:42:06-04

CINCINNATI — Sheriff Jim Neil said he would work with medical professionals to identify at-risk inmates and prioritize them for release in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. There are currently no confirmed cases in the jail.

Neil said a court order from the Court of Common Pleas will allow him to release low-level, nonviolent felony offenders who are incarcerated at the Hamilton County Justice Center who are unable to make bond.

“I know there are rumors of a mass release of inmates from the jail, but that is not the case,” Neil said.

Watch the full press conference in the player below:

Ohio Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor on Thursday urged local court systems throughout the state to release people in jail whose age or health history makes them vulnerable to severe infection.

After Neil identifies at-risk inmates, he said, he will assess other inmates eligible for release and consult with the prosecutor's office and pre-trial services.

In addition, Neil has suspended several programs and services at the jail, visitors are no longer allowed and all professional visits have been limited.

Officials will take the temperature of any inmate entering the jail, Neil said. Any newly-arrested person showing symptoms will be given a mask and will be monitored by medical personnel, and anyone in general population who develops symptoms will be quarantined in their cell and monitored.

The Hamilton County Justice Center is currently holding 1,021 people, Neil said. Some cells are still holding two people, but Neil said they’re close to being able to put only one person in each cell. Neil said the overall jail population is down since officials implemented a “process only” procedure.

WCPO will update this story.