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New Jersey releases more than 2,200 eligible inmates under nation's first public health crisis sentencing law

In an effort to curb the spread of Covid-19, more tha...

Posted: Nov 5, 2020 1:43 AM

In an effort to curb the spread of Covid-19, more than 2,200 prisoners in New Jersey will be released on Wednesday under a new law.

The law, passed by the state legislature in September, allows for sentencing credits to be rewarded to inmates within a year of completing their sentence during a public health crisis like the Covid-19 pandemic.

Another 1,167 people will be released on a rolling basis between November 4 and March 4, 2021, New Jersey Department of Corrections (NJDOC) spokesperson Matt Schuman told CNN.

Inmates serving sentences for murder, aggravated sexual assault or who have been deemed a repetitive, compulsive sex offender are not eligible for early release, according to the law.

"Since March, the population in State correctional facilities has decreased by nearly 3,000 people (16%), including more than 1,200 people who were released under Executive Order 124. This dramatic reduction has allowed for critical social distancing as part of the fight against COVID-19," said Gov. Pil Murphy in a press release, after signing the bill into law.

Under the bill, inmates -- including eligible juveniles -- are awarded public health emergency credits that can cut up to eight months off their sentence during any declared emergency period.

This is the first bill of its kind in the country, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

New Jersey has recorded one of the highest Covid-19 death per capita rates in the country, with 52 inmates deaths in New Jersey correctional facilities since the beginning of the pandemic.

Its state correctional facilities have reported Covid-19 cases totaling more than 3,000 inmates and over 1,000 Corrections employees, according to NJDOC data.

"The spread of COVID-19 in New Jersey's prisons, and our highest-in-the-nation death rate, has been a matter of public health, a matter of racial justice, and a matter of life and death," said Amol Sinha, executive director of the ACLU of New Jersey in a statement.

"The deaths from COVID-19 in prison were preventable -- and, fortunately, with the signing of this bill into law, New Jersey has taken steps to prevent more unnecessary deaths. This law serves as a roadmap for the rest of the nation to avoid the devastation we have seen here."

Prison inmates are twice as likely to die of Covid-19 than those on the outside, according to a recent study by the National Commission on Covid-19 and Criminal Justice, a commission under the Council on Criminal Justice.

Other studies have also shown that Covid-19 deaths and infection rates are higher in US prisons than in the general population.

Over the summer, multiple jails have released some prisoners as outbreaks in the facilities grew -- like in California and Ohio.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 390066

Reported Deaths: 5142
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah60179836
Washington41910395
Marion39824506
Clackamas32722377
Lane30033354
Jackson24808357
Deschutes23460185
Umatilla15098180
Linn14610179
Douglas13323287
Josephine10134242
Yamhill9717142
Klamath9002145
Polk8162100
Benton608338
Malheur592086
Coos5600106
Columbia429255
Jefferson419366
Lincoln360752
Union338654
Crook332356
Wasco314946
Clatsop261235
Baker219133
Tillamook216345
Hood River211937
Morrow197125
Curry191039
Harney119532
Grant108515
Lake104216
Wallowa75413
Sherman1903
Gilliam1854
Wheeler1141
Unassigned00

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Cases: 5078594

Reported Deaths: 74367
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles152627227138
San Diego4050994325
Riverside3873955358
San Bernardino3742565958
Orange3341765710
Sacramento1682422428
Kern1575251791
Fresno1566772252
Santa Clara1519051920
Alameda1251221504
San Joaquin1075271834
Ventura1039691190
Contra Costa1036861046
Stanislaus914651415
Tulare860701095
San Francisco56866669
San Mateo56265629
Monterey52477626
Solano47644356
Santa Barbara47268549
Merced45052667
Sonoma43127412
Placer42120470
Imperial38446773
Kings35204364
San Luis Obispo31463358
Madera26180311
Shasta26082444
Butte25441313
Santa Cruz22209224
Yolo21547257
Marin18447249
El Dorado18294166
Sutter14559186
Napa13419104
Yuba1075689
Tehama10275130
Humboldt10143118
Nevada10014105
Mendocino856097
Lassen796256
San Benito780778
Tuolumne772390
Lake7039110
Amador577066
Siskiyou474555
Glenn456636
Calaveras441288
Del Norte375442
Colusa325319
Inyo256846
Plumas19367
Mono18604
Mariposa159818
Trinity99617
Modoc7655
Unassigned2700
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