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Metropolitan Detention Center

MDC Begins Release of Susceptible Inmates due to COVID-19

03/26/2020

The Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) is releasing some inmates who are considered vulnerable to the COVID-19 coronavirus, according to CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines.

No MDC inmate or staff has tested positive for the coronavirus.

On Monday, March 23, MDC compiled a list identifying 86 inmates who meet CDC guidelines for medical risk. Of those inmates, 46 are in custody facing violent charges and are considered ineligible for release due to those charges.

“MDC had to weigh the violent charges certain inmates were being held for against their susceptibility to the COVID-19 virus,” says MDC Chief Ralph Fernandez. “We have already vacated two living area pods to use for quarantine and we also have four negative pressure rooms to use for quarantine, so there is no need to release inmates charged with violent crimes.”

Of the remainder of the list, 17 are documented MDC inmates who are already in a community custody program and halfway house programs.

The original list of 86 inmates was provided to both the Law Office of the Public Defender and the District Attorney’s Office to work on releasing any of these inmates who qualify for release. The public defender and district attorney offices have to agree on the list of inmates submitted to the judge for consideration.

Tuesday, March 24, eight inmates from the list received a district court hearing. District court judges released four.

Of the four inmates not released by the judge, MDC, with district attorney approval, moved them into the jail’s community custody program. Those remaining on the list either need a court hearing for modification on their condition of release, or are not eligible due to a hold from an outside county.

On Wednesday, March 25, the District Attorney’s Office and the Law Office of the Public Defender identified 12 more inmates to release to community supervision.

The district attorney, public defender’s office and MDC will continue to evaluate COVID-19 vulnerable inmates for possible participation in the community custody program.

A judge also granted early release to two inmates and placed them on probation.

In order to further bring down overall inmate levels, MDC is also compiling a separate list of non-violent misdemeanor and non-violent felony offenders who are not COVID-19 vulnerable who could be released in the near future. Any inmate released, whether on the community custody program or early release, will have to first go before a judge who will set the conditions of release.

In the living area pods, to promote social distancing, a few inmates per hour are being let out into the common areas at one time on a rotating schedule. This allows time for showering, phone calls or time on the tablets for video visitations.

Beginning next week, all court proceedings involving inmates will be held by video only at the jail.

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