US attorney opposes release of inmates in DC

US attorney opposes release of inmates in DC
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U.S. Attorney for Washington, D.C., Timothy Shea issued an opposition Saturday to an emergency motion filed by the Public Defender Service general counsel Thursday that sought the release of misdemeanor convicts in custody in the District.

The motion came after several inmates in Washington correctional facilities tested positive for the coronavirus and noted that outbreaks of COVID-19 “are far from speculative — they are imminent, with confirmed positive cases [at the jail] now approaching double digits.”

Shea said the inmates the public defenders suggest releasing pose a threat to society and that “the rule of law must be maintained.” 

“These misdemeanor defendants include violent criminals convicted of offenses involving vicious and armed assaults, assault on police officer and other first responders, bomb threats, voyeurism, stalking, indecent exposure to minors, and domestic violence,”  Shea said in a statement. “This pandemic should not be used as a basis to release violent criminals onto the streets of Washington.”

Specifically, he expressed concerns over those charged with domestic violence crimes that would be returned to self-isolate with victims. 

In a separate lawsuit, two people held at Hope Village, a D.C. halfway house, brought a federal class-action lawsuit against the facility, seeking the release of some residents to self-isolate in their homes. 

“Hope Village does not encourage or practice social distancing in its facilities,” the complaint claims. The lawsuit is asking for enough people to be released from the facility to comply with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. 

Officials across the country have warned that overcrowding in prisons could lead to the disease quickly spreading among inmates.

On Tuesday, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced that it would release 3,500 nonviolent inmates from its state prisons. New York City Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de Blasio3 shot, including 1 child, in Times Square New York area will lift capacity restrictions May 19 NYC 24-hour subway service resumes May 17 MORE (D) also said earlier this week that his city released 900 inmates to avoid the risk of the virus spreading in jails.