Coronavirus is spreading rapidly across the country. States have been taking steps to protect vulnerable citizens and stop the spread. One of the measures four states have taken is releasing inmates from prisons. Although this decision was made to keep vulnerable prisoners safe from the virus, it could potentially have serious consequences.
On March 18, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city would be releasing vulnerable inmates who have committed minor crimes. California, Ohio, and Florida have also adopted similar policies.
Prisons can be dangerous during an outbreak due to the lack of sanitation, proximity of inmates to one another, and lack of soap and hand sanitizer. Although the decision to release these prisoners may be done in order to protect more people, it could increase crime rates and put more people at risk.
In New York, 50 inmates were released from Monroe County Jail, eight of which were registered sex offenders. Nine of these inmates were placed at a local hotel. Out of these nine, three are considered level 3 sex offenders. This means they are considered most likely to re-offend. Each one was arrested for the rape of a minor.
In Los Angeles, police have been advised to avoid arresting those who break minor laws, and instead to just cite and release them. This has caused a decrease in arrests, not necessarily due to a decrease in crime. Within the county, arrests have dropped from an average of 300 to 60 daily.
With fewer arrests and more known criminals loose, this could create an entirely new issue. When inmates who are predicted to harm the lives of others again are released, it is not fair to innocent citizens, and their victims, who may be affected.
It is important to protect those who are vulnerable, even inmates, but releasing them is not the best option. Instead, lawmakers should strive for better sanitation measures to be in place at jails. Brief and supervised access could kill more germs, slowing the spread of the virus.
Along with this, prisoners could be moved to less full facilities. Inmates showing symptoms could be quarantined away from the healthy inmates. This is also difficult, as prisons tend to be overcrowded. To combat this, it is important to release certain inmates, but only those who are convicted of nonviolent crimes. During this time, releasing those who are convicted for drug use or those who are awaiting trial for a non-violent crimes should be released to decrease the prison population and slow the spread.
In the end, there are many potential solutions. But it is hard to tell which will be the most effective. Still, one thing is clear. No matter the case, we should not be releasing inmates who have not served their full time and are likely to go on harming others.
Legislators should take a step back and realize the harm releasing these prisoners could cause to their victims, the city, and our society.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.