Judge explains why inmates released early amid coronavirus pandemic

Lancaster

LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — 75 inmates have been released from the Lancaster County Prison since March 16 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“What we’re trying to do is prevent an outbreak in the prison, obviously, and provide the safety of the community at the same time,” President Judge David Ashworth said.

Ashworth explained that the prison is not handing get out of jail free cards but that cases are first reviewed by prison officials, probation and parole office, and the District Attorney’s Office.

“By the time it gets to me, everybody who would otherwise be involved has vetted that,” Ashworth said. “They looked through the case, they’ve taken a look at all the concerns that might exist, they’ve contacted victims if they’re involved.”

He explained inmates who are getting out early are either older than 55, at-risk health-wise, or within two months of their release date.

“It really needs to be emphasized and people need to understand that we’re not just opening the doors to the prison and letting people out,” Ashworth said. “Violent offenders and those deemed a risk to the community are not being considered.”

There has not yet been a case of COVID-19 in Lancaster County Prison as of Monday.

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