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Some Utah inmates may see early release due to COVID-19

Inmate's Shackled Hands
Posted at 5:25 PM, Mar 17, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Sheriffs' Association released a list of its policies for limiting the spread and community impact of COVID-19.

The policies include the potential early release from incarceration for some Utah inmates.

According to a news release from the Utah Sheriff's Association, elderly inmates and others with underlying health problems could be granted early release if they don't pose a physical threat to the public.

People charged with minor crimes may be released or granted bail instead of being incarcerated.

"While sheriffs and their deputies always use their best judgment and discretion, there is a heightened need to look at any available alternative to incarceration if that is possible without exposing the public to danger," the news release said.

Other policies include "taking extraordinary steps to clean and sanitize our jails" and providing extra soap and access to warm water for inmates.

Medical personnel and jail staff members are receiving training to recognize the signs and symptoms of COVID-19.

While sheriffs and their deputies always use their best judgment and discretion, there is a heightened need to look at any available alternative to incarceration if that is possible without exposing the public to danger," the news release said.

Some Utah jails, such as the ones in Davis and Iron counties, have already stopped in-person visitation to limit the spread of COVID-19. Others are likely to follow suit.

"Anyone who is planning to visit a count jail facility is encouraged to contact the jail personnel before showing up," the news release said.