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Here's Why Michigan Jails Look To Release Some Inmates Early

(CBS DETROIT) - Jails in Washtenaw, Oakland, Macomb and Wayne county are making the decision to release some inmates early to try and avoid a potential outbreak of the coronavirus within the jail.

The coronavirus is spreading like wildfire throughout the state. So far the crisis has not hit the Oakland County Jail and the county sheriff wants to keep it that way.

"First and foremost, determine if they have any violent charges pending or any violent history. If they have violence in either of those categories we take them off the list," said Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard.

He says so far 16 inmates have been released, with more awaiting approval.

Bouchard says this is all in an effort to maintain everyone's health, in addition, they've made some changes within the jail.

"We've changed different processes as it relates to recreation obviously to try and do what we can and still give them some time but to limit movement in the facility," said Bouchard.

He said they also screen inmates as they come in and if they show any signs of illness, they are immediately isolated.

Employees are also screened which is the process at all county jails in the Metro area.

It's unclear how many inmates have been released from Macomb and Washtenaw counties, but Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napolean says off-camera, they have released over 400 inmates in the last month.

The sheriff stresses it is not his decision to release the inmates, it's up to the judge.

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