Washington state’s Department of Corrections says they are likely to release “approximately 600-950 incarcerated individuals beginning in the coming days” in an attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus.
"The goal in releasing individuals from state correctional facilities is to provide more physical distancing within the state’s correctional facilities," the Department of Corrections said in a statement.
The new details come in a report ordered by the state Supreme Court after five inmates filed a lawsuit which said being in close quarters with other prisoners was endangering their health.
Seven minimum security inmates at the Monroe Correction Complex tested positive for Covid-19, sparking a brief cellblock riot last week.
In a 153-page response filed today, the state says they will focus on furloughing non-violent inmates who are on work release or already due to be released within 75 days, as well as certain medically vulnerable prisoners who are scheduled to get out within the next eight months.
In some cases, the furloughed inmates may be required to submit to home monitoring for the remainder of their sentences.
The statement said the Department has developed and had been implementing new protocols and directives specifically aimed at combatting the coronavirus pandemic since the beginning of March — including supplying face coverings to all inmates and quarantining those with coronavirus symptoms, but the high court said those actions alone were not sufficient.