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Gov. Brown to release some inmates to slow virus spread

In the letter to the director of the DOC, Brown recognized the overwhelming challenge of enforcing social distancing in a prison setting.

Posted: Jun 13, 2020 7:35 PM
Updated: Jun 13, 2020 11:48 PM

PORTLAND, Ore. --- Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has asked for a list of names by June 22 of inmates eligible for possible release to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the state prison system.

The request marks a turning point for the governor who has previously refused to release inmates in response to the pandemic and comes as Oregon faces a spike of coronavirus cases.

RELATED: EARLY INMATE RELEASE TO BE CASE BY CASE, BROWN SAYS

In the letter to the director of the DOC, Brown recognized the overwhelming challenge of enforcing social distancing in a prison setting.

The state Department of Corrections was asked to perform an analysis of inmates who are vulnerable to the coronavirus and meet the outlined criteria for possible commutation.

  • Be particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, as identified by DOC medical staff.
  • Not be serving a sentence for a person crime.
  • Have served at least 50% of their sentence.
  • Have a record of good conduct for the last 12 months.
  • Have a suitable housing plan.
  • Have their out-of-custody health care needs assessed and adequately addressed.
  • Not present an unacceptable safety, security, or compliance risk to the community.

Inmates eligible for commutation will be required to take a COVID-19 test before being released. If a person shows symptoms or tests positive for the virus, they’ll be ineligible for released and immediately isolated. Once that person no longer shows symptoms and tests negative for the virus, they will again be eligible for early release, Brown said.

The Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem has confirmed more than 100 inmates and several employees have tested positive for COVID-19. Three other prisons also have confirmed cases.

RELATED: INMATE WITH CORONAVIRUS DIES IN OREGON

The Oregon Justice Resource Center said the governor’s decision is long overdue.

“Governor Brown has now recognized what we have been saying for months: COVID-19 poses a serious threat to the health of all who live and work in Oregon’s prisons. Prisons are not an environment where it is possible to achieve the physical distancing needed to reduce the spread of disease unless we reduce the number of people incarcerated,” said Bobbin Singh, executive director of the OJRC.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 153645

Reported Deaths: 2162
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah31669515
Washington20962209
Marion18246282
Clackamas13260170
Lane10096122
Jackson8198108
Umatilla760081
Deschutes589358
Yamhill373962
Linn354455
Malheur333658
Polk300642
Klamath276554
Douglas237551
Josephine228849
Benton227816
Jefferson193427
Coos138518
Union126919
Columbia123221
Wasco121825
Lincoln112320
Hood River106029
Morrow103613
Crook77118
Clatsop7706
Baker6397
Curry4106
Tillamook4062
Lake3746
Harney2726
Grant2221
Wallowa1424
Gilliam531
Sherman520
Wheeler221
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