The chief state judge in New Jersey ordered the release of hundreds of inmates in county jails by Tuesday “based on the dangers posed by coronavirus disease 19.”
Chief Justice Stuart Rabner of the New Jersey Supreme Court issued the order on Monday after consulting with the state attorney general, County Prosecutors Association, Public Defenders Office and the ACLU of New Jersey.
The ACLU of New Jersey estimates up to 1,000 people may be released under the order.
“The reduction of county jail populations, under appropriate conditions, is in the public interest to mitigate risks imposed by Covid-19,” the judge wrote.
Inmates who are detained for probation violations, municipal court convictions, disorderly persons offense, and for fourth-degree or petty crimes, will be released beginning Tuesday, according to the order.
An inmates release can be appealed if there are questions about public safety. The judge said no inmates who have tested positive for the virus will be released until the judge determines a plan to isolate the individual.
“This is truly a landmark agreement, and one that should be held up for all states dealing with the current public health crisis,” said Amol Sinha, executive director of the ACLU of New Jersey.