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8 pregnant women to be released from New York prison over virus fears

Eight pregnant women will be released from a prison in upstate New York this week after Governor Andrew Cuomo's Office instructed state corrections officials to release pregnant, non-violent offenders with under six months remaining on their sentences. Six of the women were released from the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility on Tuesday night, officials said.

A spokesperson with the state's Department of Corrections and Community Supervision said three other pregnant women who are still incarcerated have circumstances beyond the department's reach. One has an outstanding warrant, one has a concurrent sentence with time beyond her release date and the other has a court-mandated program that she is required to complete before her release, the spokesperson said. 

The Legal Aid Society, which provides legal support for those who can't afford it, on Monday called on state officials to release the pregnant women for their safety during the coronavirus pandemic. The group is now urging the state to release other clients they represent. 

"There is no justification to hold these women in custody further as the COVID-19 infection rate continues to climb, endangering the lives of everyone in prison," Tina Luongo, the group's lead criminal defense attorney, said in a statement. "Any further delay is heartless and will keep our clients and their unborn children in serious danger."

As of Tuesday, 13 inmates in state custody have died after contracting the virus, the department said. A total of 407 inmates have tested positive for the virus and 224 have recovered. Four staffers have died and 1,129 have tested positive. 

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