Throughout the country, governors, courts, corrections systems, and law enforcement agencies are implementing new policies to limit the spread of coronavirus in jails and prisons.
Officials in at least 43 states and the federal prison system have adopted policies to reduce their incarcerated populations. Efforts range from police departments issuing summonses instead of making arrests for lower-level offenses to fast-tracking parole hearings to early releases for individuals who are nearing the end of their sentences or who have pre-existing medical conditions.
Governors in at least 11 states have issued executive orders that block new transfers into state prisons, allow early release for some prisoners, or both. At the county level, judges, prosecutors, and public defenders are working together to release low-risk pretrial detainees and inmates serving sentences for nonviolent offenses. And the federal prison system has transferred hundreds of prisoners to home confinement.
This page is intended to serve as a resource to compile information from media reports, official announcements, and other sources about actions taken in response to coronavirus that affect incarcerated populations. Click on a specific state or scroll down.
March 18 — A circuit judge ordered inmates released from Autauga, Elmore, and Chilton county jails at discretion of sheriffs based on inmates’ potential threat to the community.
March 20 — The Alabama Department of Corrections blocked new transfers from local jails to state prisons for at least 30 days.
April 1 — Alabama state prisons have temporarily stopped accepting new inmates, causing backups in local jails, which often lack infirmaries to care for sick inmates.
April 7 — Police in Alaska are under a temporary court order to not jail anyone for misdemeanor offenses except stalking and domestic violence. A separate court order allows pretrial detainees to request a bail hearing based on concerns about the virus.
March 26 — The Maricopa County Attorney announced that she directed her staff to find ways to “reduce the number of individuals having to interact with the criminal justice system.”
March 27 — The Pima County Jail has released some pretrial detainees charged with lower-level, nonviolent offenses.
April 21 — The number of jail inmates in Cochise County fell 32%.
March 23 — Some county jails have begun releasing low-risk pretrial detainees and inmates serving sentences for lower-level offenses.
April 20 — Gov. Asa Hutchinson has asked the Department of Corrections to review all state prisoners serving sentences for nonviolent, non-sex offenses who are due to be released within the next six months. The parole board will screen the approximately 1,700 individuals who fit that criteria and consider them for early release.
May 8 — Arkansas prisons have granted early release for 300 individuals following the governor’s April 20 directive.
March 16 — The Los Angeles County jail system released 600 inmates, including some who were nearing the end of their sentences. Law enforcement agencies, including the Los Angeles Police Department, moved to reduce the number of arrests by issuing citations for low-level offenses.
March 18 — The Santa Clara County sheriff released jail six inmates who were nearing the end of their sentences to home confinement.
March 19 — The Alameda County sheriff released 314 jail inmates early at the request of a judge, public defender, and district attorney. The sheriff also directed police to prioritize arrests for individuals accused of felonies and issue citations for low-level offenses.
March 19 — Los Angeles County has reduced its jail population by 6% over three weeks as the county speeds up efforts to release inmates, prioritizing early release for individuals with fewer than 30 days left to serve. Police are citing instead of arresting people charged with lower-level offenses, excluding domestic violence. On March 24, the Sheriff’s Department reported 1,700 had been released.
March 24 — The governor issued an executive order barring new commitments to state prisons and youth facilities for at least 30 days. The order also directs the parole board to develop and implement a process for holding parole hearings virtually by April 13.
March 25 — The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said it had reduced the jail population by about 100 inmates over a week to free up quarantine space. Law enforcement officers are issuing citations rather than making arrests for some misdemeanors.
March 30 — San Francisco reduced its jail population by 25% in March.
March 31 — The Santa Rita Jail, one of the largest in California, reduced its population by about 500 inmates in two weeks. The Alameda County district attorney, public defender, and presiding judge agreed release about 250 inmates after modifying their sentences. The rest of the decrease came from local courts releasing defendants without bail and police departments arresting and booking fewer people.
March 31 — The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation plans to grant early release to 3,500 prisoners who were scheduled to be released over the next 60 days.
April 1 — Santa Clara County law enforcement officers will issue citations instead of making arrests for offenses including failure to appear, as well as nonviolent felonies with standard bail less than $25,000.
April 6 — California judges adopted a statewide emergency rule to release people charged with misdemeanors and lower-level felonies without bail.
April 10 — As many as 39 Shasta County jail inmates will be released early under a state directive to reduce incarcerated populations.
April 14 — Hundreds of jail inmates across the state were released after the Judicial Council of California issued an emergency order eliminating bail for people charged with low-level offenses.
April 27 — Bay Area jails in five counties have reduced their combined population by more than 3,000 people through releases and booking fewer individuals. San Quentin State Prison has released 87 people. Some of those released are now adding to the area’s homeless population. Statewide, California expedited the release of 3,500 individuals from state prison.
March 16 — Police in Denver and Boulder are issuing citations instead of arresting individuals accused of low-level, nonviolent drug and property offenses.
March 21 — The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office announced plans to release some inmates who have served at least half of their sentence.
March 24 — The governor of Colorado issued guidance to law enforcement to increase use of warnings or summonses in lieu of arrest when public safety is not at risk and for jurisdictions to implement pretrial diversion and release methods to lower the number of individuals in custody. Also, Colorado sheriffs issued guidance that law enforcement should summons and release individuals on all offenses where arrest is not mandated by statute, and should notify but release individuals encountered with warrants for low-level misdemeanors and felonies, and that jails should reduce their jail population by weighing the crime, time remaining on sentence, inmate behavior, and risk to the community.
March 27 — The governor signed an executive order allowing the Department of Corrections to limit the number of new prisoners it accepts, award good time credits to reduce the prison population, and refer qualifying individuals to a “special needs parole” program. The order also suspends a $17 per day subsistence payment community corrections clients are required to pay.
April 1 — The combined population of Colorado’s 15 largest county jails is down 31% compared to January. The drop is the result of releasing inmates on home confinement, lowering bail amounts, early releases, and police departments issuing summonses instead of making arrests.
April 13 — Fifty-two state prisoners have been released early following Gov. Jared Polis’ March 25 executive order, and hundreds more could follow.
April 20 — The number of inmates in Denver County jails fell 41% from March 1 through April 15. Judges and prosecutors have prioritized releasing individuals who are pregnant, are over 60, have health issues or less than 60 days left on their sentence, are being held on low bail, or are on work release.
April 6 — Connecticut prisons have granted early release for more than 700 inmates, prioritizing those over 50.
May 1 — Connecticut granted early releases for more than 520 state prisoners in March, placing them on some form of community supervision. With early releases and scheduled releases, the state prison population shrank to its lowest level since 1993.
May 12 — Delaware’s incarcerated population is down 10% due to fewer admissions, release of some individuals being held pretrial, and early release for some individuals who were on work release for failing to pay child support.
March 19 — The Lake County Sheriff’s Office released 44 pretrial detainees charged with nonviolent offenses. In Hillsborough County, 164 inmates serving sentences for nonviolent offenses were approved for release. The state prison system stopped accepting new inmates until at least March 30.
March 22 — Prosecutors are working to reduce the jail population in Duval, Clay, and Nassau counties through plea deals that avoid jail time, releasing certain pretrial detainees, and not filing charges in nonviolent, “marginal” cases.
March 27 — Hillsborough County released 164 pretrial detainees who couldn’t afford to pay bail. Pinellas County’s jail bookings decreased as law enforcement prioritized issuing summonses instead of arrests. Leon County has seen a 60% drop in jail bookings compared to February.
March 30 — Jail bookings in Collier County fell by 68% after law enforcement agencies changed protocols to issue summonses for nonviolent crimes instead of making arrests.
April 3 — Prosecutors in Miami-Dade County announced plans to release 18 jail inmates who were due to complete their sentences over the next two months.
April 9 — Public defenders and prosecutors in Broward County are working with judges to reduce the county’s jail population. The county has released 2,500 inmates in the past month, bringing its population to 500 fewer inmates compared to the same time last year.
April 1 — Georgia’s parole board is reviewing cases for early release. Only prisoners serving time for nonviolent offenses who are within 180 days of finishing their sentences are in consideration for early release.
April 1 — Dougherty County reduced its jail population 20% by releasing some inmates early and releasing pretrial detainees.
May 1 — Hawaii’s jails and prisons have granted early release for 655 individuals since March 2 after expedited reviews of motions filed by defense attorneys.
April 3 — Judges are issuing summonses instead of arrest warrants for failure to appear in Kootenai County, where jail overcrowding has heightened concerns about coronavirus.
March 20 — Cook County has begun releasing inmates who fall into specific categories: nonviolent, elderly, pregnant, or with underlying health issues. On March 24, the Chicago Sun-Times reported judges will begin reviewing cases in response to a public defender’s emergency motion seeking immediate release of some inmates, including those who are older, have health conditions, couldn’t pay their bonds, or are charged with low-level, non-violent felony and misdemeanor crimes. The goal of the effort is to reduce the jail population by 5,600.
March 23 — Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued an executive order easing restrictions on early releases for state prisoners for good behavior.
March 27 — The governor issued an executive order blocking transfers from county jails to state prisons.
April 5 — The Department of Corrections has released about 500 state prisoners early. The department has not publicly discussed the criteria used to make release decisions except that individuals’ cases were reviewed for violent histories.
April 7 — Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued an executive order allowing the Department of Corrections to grant temporary releases for state prisoners who are “medically vulnerable.”
April 9 — DuPage County has reduced its jail population by 160. Those released include pretrial detainees and sentenced inmates who either were temporarily freed or who had their sentence “terminated satisfactorily.”
April 17 — The Cook County Jail has released 1,300 inmates, about 25% of its population, as prosecutors, defense attorneys, and the sheriff work together to release some pretrial detainees and people serving time for lower-level offenses.
March 29 — County jails have released dozens of nonviolent inmates. Judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys are reviewing individual cases.
April 14 — The Daviess County jail shrank its population from 200 to 135. The reduction came largely from temporarily sending home inmates in the work release program and transitioning some people who were nearing the end of their sentences onto probation.
March 23 — Jails in multiple counties have released dozens and possibly hundreds of inmates by shortening sentences, giving credit for time-served, or deferring imposition of sentences until a later date. Police in multiple counties are also issuing summonses for low-level, nonviolent offenses, excluding domestic violence.
March 25 — The state corrections department said it would soon begin releasing 700 state prisoners already deemed eligible for release by the parole board.
April 7 — Judges, prosecutors, and public defenders in Iowa are reviewing petitions for release on a case-by-case basis. They’ve released some pretrial detainees, as well as individuals serving sentences for lower-level, nonviolent offenses.
April 20 — State prisons released 811 individuals since March 1. Another 482 were approved for release.
March 26 — The Sedgwick County Jail has released about 200 pretrial detainees charged with lower-level offenses since mid-March. Prosecutors, defense attorneys, and law enforcement agencies are working to release more individuals.
May 1 — State officials halted a plan to reduce Kansas’ prison population after only six people were released to home confinement because of an outbreak in a facility outside Kansas City.
March 17 — Public defenders and prosecutors in Jefferson County agreed on releasing about 110 low-risk pretrial detainees charged with nonviolent offenses.
March 29 — County jails have reduced their inmate populations 28 percent by releasing pretrial detainees and people serving time for misdemeanor sentences. The jails reduced their total population by 3,209 inmates in two weeks.
April 2 — Gov. Andy Beshear announced plans to release more than 900 state prisoners. That number includes 186 people serving time for lower-level felony sentences who received commutations under an executive order signed by the governor and 743 prisoners who are within six months of the end of their sentences.
April 14 — The state supreme court issued new rules calling for people charged with nonviolent, non-sex misdemeanors and felonies to be released on personal recognizance unless they pose a high risk for new criminal activity. Individuals facing felony charges and anyone considered high-risk for failing to appear will be supervised by pretrial services through monitored conditional release. Police will issue citations instead of making arrests on warrants for failure to pay court costs, fees, or fines. People arrested for contempt of court on civil matters or nonpayment of child support or restitution will be released on their own recognizance.
April 17 — Kentucky’s county jail population fell 38% statewide as judges release pretrial detainees and police make fewer arrests.
April 21 — The state supreme court issued emergency guidelines ordering the release on personal recognizance for individuals charged with nonviolent, non-sex misdemeanors or low-level felonies.
March 17 — The district attorney and judges in Ascension Parish are working to release nonviolent offenders on a case-by-case basis. The sheriff’s department is issuing summonses for misdemeanors instead of making arrests.
March 31 — District court judges ordered the Orleans Justice Center Parish Prison to release pretrial detainees held on low-level charges. The jail released 144 people over two weeks, resulting in a 14% drop in the population, but another 166 people remained jailed for nonviolent charges, including drugs, burglary, or possession of stolen property.
April 3 — The chief justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court asked judges to work with prosecutors, public defenders, and sheriffs to do a “comprehensive and heightened risk-based assessment” for all detainees, except those convicted of felonies.
April 14 — The Department of Corrections announced that it’s forming a panel to consider temporary furloughs for some nonviolent individuals. State law allows furloughs for state prisoners and jail inmates who are in the final six months of their sentence. About 1,200 individuals are eligible to have their cases reviewed.
April 30 — The Louisiana Department of Corrections has granted early release from state prison for 53 people out of 249 considered so far. To be eligible under the department’s furlough program, individuals can’t have been convicted of violent or sex offenses and must be within six months of their release date.
May 7 — A panel created by Gov. John Bel Edwards to consider people in state prison for a furlough program has released 58 individuals out of the 289 it has reviewed.
March 30 — County jails in Maine have reduced their overall population by 20 percent, or about 320 people, over three weeks. Approaches vary by county and have included releasing pretrial detainees or not holding them on bail, granting early release for some inmates, and using summonses instead of arresting and jailing people for low-level offenses. The Department of Correction has started releasing smaller numbers of people from state prisons.
April 15 — Statewide, the number of people held in county jails has decreased 37% since February, and the state prison population is down 7%. In York County, judges are delaying sentences and police are issuing citations for some offenses instead of making arrests. Cumberland County has released some jail inmates with less than 90 days left before their scheduled release.
May 13 — The population in Maine’s 15 county jails fell by 40% in seven weeks as police issue more summonses and make fewer arrests, prosecutors and defense attorneys work together to release more pretrial detainees, and courts increase the number of days they can set bail for defendants.
March 18 — The Baltimore State’s Attorney ordered her staff to dismiss pending charges against people arrested for drug possession and attempted distribution, trespassing, prostitution, open container violations, and urinating in public. Prosecutors in Prince George’s County said they plan to release at least 40 people charged with low-level, nonviolent offenses.
March 27 — Prosecutors and the public defender’s office in Prince George’s County worked together to review cases of pretrial detainees, resulting in the release of 62 people in a week.
April 6 — In Baltimore, 60 low-risk jail inmates have been released following new or sped up bail hearings. The state’s attorney’s offices is reviewing additional cases.
April 14 — Maryland’s top judge directed judges to identify and release jail and prison inmates who have are more susceptible to catching coronavirus and don’t pose a risk to public safety. The directive also calls for expedited bail hearings and to consider defendants’ pre-existing health conditions when setting bail amounts.
April 19 — Gov. Larry Hogan signed an executive order expediting the release of up to 700 state prisoners whose were scheduled to leave incarceration over the next four months. The order also speeds up processing for home confinement and directs the parole board to consider releasing inmates convicted of nonviolent offenses who are older than 60, have a good record from their time in prison, and have an approved reentry plan.
March 24 — The state’s highest court temporarily banned the use of GPS bracelets for pretrial defendants and probationers because putting one on requires close contact. The order includes exceptions for when a judge finds a “compelling public safety need.”
March 25 — Middlesex County has released more than 40 pretrial detainees. The district attorney is reviewing cases of sentenced inmates, prioritizing factors including nonviolent offenses and health risks, and has asked police to use discretion in making arrests. Franklin and Hampshire county jails have released 25% of pretrial detainees. Suffolk County is reviewing cases. Berkshire County has released one person.
April 3 — The state’s highest court issued a ruling calling for hearings to consider releasing pretrial detainees charged with nonviolent offenses.
April 4 — The Department of Correction placed all state prisons on lockdown following the third inmate death from coronavirus.
April 14 — State prisons and county jails have released 367 people following the state Supreme Judicial Court’s ruling that some prisoners could seek to be released, including pretrial detainees and individuals held on technical violations of parole and probation conditions.
April 22 — Massachusetts county jails and state prisons have released 637 people since April 5, following a ruling from the state’s highest court that some prisoners could seek early release, including pretrial detainees and those being held on certain parole and probation violations.
April 28 — The Middlesex County jail reduced its population from 787 to 610 between March and the end of April.
May 5 — Massachusetts jails and prisons released 993 people since April 3, according to a report from a special master appointed by the state’s highest court to track releases. The report did not say how many were released early in response to the pandemic or how many completed their sentences.
May 12 — State and county correctional facilities have released 1,158 people under the Supreme Judicial Court’s April ruling allowing pretrial detainees charged with nonviolent offenses to seek release.
March 26 — Michigan’s chief justice and sheriff’s association issued guidelines for reducing jail populations, including that judges and sheriffs should use their statutory authority reduce and suspend jail sentences for people who do not pose a public safety risk, law enforcement should only arrest people and take them to jail if they pose an immediate threat to people in the community, judges should release far more people on their own recognizance, and judges should use probation and treatment programs as jail alternatives.
March 29 — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order halting transfers into and out of Department of Corrections facilities and suspended some regulations to make it easier for local officials to release vulnerable jail inmates who don’t pose a risk to public safety. Inmates identified as potentially eligible for early release from jails or local lockups include those who are elderly or chronically ill, pregnant women, people nearing their release date, and anyone incarcerated for a traffic violation, failure to appear, or failure to pay.
April 15 — The Department of Correction is working to speed up the parole process.
April 1 — The St. Louis County jail population declined by 59 people in March. Some inmates released were pretrial detainees.
April 13 — The Department of Corrections said as many as 25 state prisoners could be released within a week as it continues to review cases of individuals serving sentence for lower-level offenses and those at higher risk because of underlying health issues.
April 1 — The Department of Corrections has suspended in-person check-ins for people on community supervision. People on supervision are still required to check in by phone, email, or video chat, but they are not required to speak with their assigned agent.
March 26 — Prosecutors, public defenders, courts, and jail staff in St. Louis and St. Louis County finalized plans to release more than 140 jail inmates. Authorities are reviewing additional cases, focusing on individuals held on lower-level, nonviolent offenses who have health issues. Authorities in St. Charles County are taking similar steps to reduce their jail population.
March 27 — The Jackson County jail has released 80 inmates in response to the coronavirus. The county prosecutor’s office also announced that it’s minimizing bond conditions for defendants who don’t pose a danger to public safety or a flight risk.
March 20 — Montana’s chief justice asked the state’s judges to review jail rosters and release without bond as many people as possible, especially those held for nonviolent offenses.
April 1 — The governor has directed the Department of Corrections to suspend transfers into prisons except when approved by the director.
April 17 — The Clark County Detention Center plans to release as many as 290 inmates — about 10% of the jail’s population. Inmates eligible for release include those sentenced for nonviolent misdemeanors who have served at least 75% of their time, individuals held on technical violations of parole or probation, and those with health issues.
April 18 — State prisons and county jails are working with prosecutors and defense attorneys to review cases of pretrial detainees and sentenced individuals who are nearing the end of their sentences. Attorneys are also working with the courts to expedite plea and sentencing hearings for individuals who may qualify for time-served, suspended sentences, or alternatives to incarceration.
March 23 — The state Supreme Court has ordered the release of county jail inmates serving time for a probation sentence or a municipal court conviction. The ACLU says the decision could affect 1,000 jail inmates. On March 24, it was reported that the official tally of inmates covered under the release order is 809. Prosecutors are challenging the release of 312 of them; the remaining 497 face no challenges.
April 10 — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy issued an executive order releasing state prisoners convicted of nonviolent offenses whose age or health puts them at higher risk. Prison officials will also consider early release for prisoners whose sentences are due to run out in the next 90 days and those who’ve been denied parole within the last year.
April 23 — Two weeks after announcing plans to reduce its prison population by up to 1,100 inmates, New Jersey hadn’t begun to grant early releases. Corrections officials said steps required under the governor’s executive order, including conferring with prosecutors and victims and determining whether individuals had an appropriate home to go to, slowed the process.
April 28 — New Jersey prisons released 54 people to emergency medical home confinement. That’s 3% of the number of individuals eligible for furloughs under the governor’s April 10 executive order.
April 9 — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued an executive order requiring early release for prisoners convicted of nonviolent offenses who were due to be released within 30 days, provided they have a parole plan.
March 17 — Prosecutors in Kings County are declining to prosecute low-level offenses that don’t jeopardize public safety. On March 25, the district attorney’s office said it had declined to prosecute more than 90 low-level offenses in the previous week. The office has also reviewed more than 200 requests for release from defenders organizations.
March 21 — The New York City jails released 56 people who were being held pretrial, returned for a parole violation, or considered vulnerable to infection. On March 23, the mayor said he is reviewing a list of 200 inmates in city jails who could be released early, including prisoners with underlying health conditions, elderly people, and those who have served most of their time.
March 28 — The Department of Corrections and Community Supervision plans to release 1,100 people being held for low-level technical violations of parole.
April 8 — A Bronx judge ordered three pretrial detainees released after their attorneys argued that they are at higher risk of complications from COVID-19.
April 8 — New York lawmakers walked back a law that eliminated cash bail for most people charged with misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies. The changes, which were part of a bill, allow judges to order defendants held on bail for an additional set of charges, as well as offenses that involve harm to a person or property.
April 10 — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that more than 1,500 people have been released from city jails in three weeks, bringing the jail population to its lowest level in 70 years. The vast majority of those released were being held for nonviolent offenses, misdemeanors, and technical violations of parole conditions; 329 were classified as “violent felony detainees.”
April 13 — Onondaga County (Syracuse) jails released 18 people held for technical violations of parole conditions. Judges are also reviewing bail decisions and the district attorney’s office is reviewing cases involving older prisoners with health issues.
May 6 — New York prisons have released eight women following Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s directive to release individuals who are pregnant, serving sentences for nonviolent offenses, and have less than six months left to serve.
April 13 — The Department of Public Safety is taking steps to reduce North Carolina’s state prison population, including moving up to 500 individuals convicted of nonviolent offenses onto community supervision. Eligible prisoners include those who are pregnant, over 65 with an underlying health condition, women over 50 with an underlying health condition and a release date in 2020, over 65 with a release date in 2020, on home leave or work release and have a release date in 2020. The department is also awarding good-time credits to move up their release date.
May 3 — The Department of Public Safety has granted early release from prison to 485 people.
March 20 — The North Dakota Parole Board is attempting to mitigate the state’s prison population by granting parole to 56 people.
May 8 — The parole board has granted the release of 120 people from state prison. Those released include 94 people convicted of nonviolent offenses, 14 convicted of violent offenses, and 11 are registered sex offenders.
March 14 — Judges in Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) are holding special sessions to try to settle cases, release inmates or send them to prison, or release them on house arrest. On March 21, Cuyahoga County jails were down 700 inmates, Hamilton County (Cincinnati) was down about 600, and Franklin County (Columbus) was down 300. The reductions are from releasing nonviolent offenders, issuing citations instead of making arrests, and making plea deals to resolve cases more quickly.
March 25 — The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office said more than 300 inmates have been released since March 16.
March 26 — Butler County has released hundreds of jail inmates to ease crowding. The jail population decreased from 1,033 to 873 in two weeks.
March 31 — Delaware County reduced its jail population to 110 inmates from 220 over a month by expediting cases to release low-level, nonviolent offenders.
April 3 — Gov. Mike DeWine is asking judges to consider early release for 15 state prisoners who are over 60 and 23 who are pregnant or recently gave birth.
April 7 — The governor said he will seek to release about 160 state prisoners. Most of those prisoners were scheduled to be released within 90 days, are serving time for nonviolent offenses, and have not been incarcerated before. Others are over 60 and have health issues.
April 15 — Gov. DeWine approved the release of 105 nonviolent state prisoners, bringing the total of early releases from the prison system to about 500. All were scheduled to be released within the next 90 days.
April 17 — Gov. Mike DeWine commuted the sentences of seven people in state prison.
March 25 — The Oklahoma County jail has released more than 200 lower-level, nonviolent individuals.
April 16 — Gov. Kevin Stitt commuted the sentences of 450 people in state prison.
March 23 — The Washington County Sheriff’s Office said it has released 121 inmates from a jail population of 574. Sheriffs in Multnomah and Tillamook counties are also working with prosecutors and parole officials to release low-level offenders.
April 15 — The Multnomah County jail population is down 30%. Officials are releasing some inmates early and issuing citations instead of making arrests for some charges.
April 15 — At the request of Gov. Kate Brown, the Department of Corrections identified 3,244 state prisoners who fall into categories she said she would consider for early release based on their offense, sentence, age, and health conditions. The governor has said she will not grant mass releases.
May 3 — The number of individuals in Oregon county jails has fallen by almost half. Reduction efforts vary by county and include police making fewer arrests and jails identifying individuals held for nonviolent offenses who are eligible for early release because of preexisting health issues or because they’re nearing the end of their sentences.
March 17 — The Philadelphia police commissioner said police will delay arrests for people charged with low-level, nonviolent offenses, including drug crimes, theft, vandalism, and prostitution.
March 23 — The Pennsylvania Department of Correction is sending all new inmates and individuals returned on parole violations to one location to minimize the chances of spreading the virus in state prisons.
March 25 — The Mercer County jail released 60 of 308 inmates to free up space for a potential quarantine.
April 1 — Pennsylvania is speeding up the release of state prisoners by expediting parole hearings for those who’ve reached their minimum sentence date and allowing some prisoners to complete pre-release programming in the community. The combined efforts led to the release of 574 prisoners in March.
April 10 — Gov. Tom Wolf ordered the Department of Corrections to begin releasing state prisoners to community corrections facilities or home confinement. The temporary reprieve program applies only to individuals who are nonviolent and who would’ve been eligible for release within the next nine months or who have an elevated risk of complications from the coronavirus and are due to be released within the next 12 months.
April 11 — Philadelphia jails have released 238 inmates, including pretrial detainees charged with lower-level, nonviolent offenses and others who had already completed their minimum sentence. Prosecutors and public defenders submitted lists of candidates for special review hearings. Bucks and Delaware counties have reduced their jail populations by more than 20%.
April 15 — The first seven state prisoners were released on temporary reprieves signed by Gov. Wolf. Prisoners granted temporary reprieves will likely have to return to prison to resume their sentences after the coronavirus crisis subsides.
April 22 — Judges reduced Philadelphia’s jail population 17% in April, releasing some nonviolent pretrial detainees who were held on low-bail. Unions representing jail workers are urging the release of more inmates.
May 8 — Pennsylvania prisons have released fewer than 150 people under a temporary reprieve program that officials estimated 1,500 to 1,800 individuals would be eligible for.
May 11 — Philadelphia jails have released more than 1,000 people during the pandemic.
April 3 — The Rhode Island Supreme Court approved the release of 52 people from state prison, all of whom were serving sentences for nonviolent offenses. Prosecutors, public defenders, and corrections officials worked together to consider individual cases based on the person’s risk of re-offending and whether they had a home to go to.
March 16 — The chief justice of the state’s highest court ordered the release of all pretrial detainees charged with a “non-capital” crime, unless they pose an unreasonable danger or extreme flight risk. Anderson County released more than 40 pretrial detainees.
April 10 — The state supreme court ordered the release of defendants charged with non-capital offenses without bail, unless they pose an unreasonable danger or an extreme flight risk. Greenville County’s jail population fell by a quarter over a month. In one week, 85% of defendants were released on personal recognizance compared to 15% for the same week last year.
March 19 — The Nashville Metro police chief said officers will use “maximum discretion” in issuing citations in lieu of making misdemeanor arrests, excluding DUI and domestic violence.
March 23 — Davidson County (Nashville) released of 25 inmates. The district attorney and a public defender agreed to pursue early release for 80 people from a list of 264 names compiled by the sheriff who are considered particularly vulnerable to catching and spreading the virus.
March 24 — Local jails in Nashville released 25 people on March 23, and prosecutors and public defenders have agreed to release dozens more.
March 26 — The Tennessee Supreme Court ordered local judges to submit plans for reducing their jail populations by March 30. The order called on judges, law enforcement, and attorneys to work together in planning to release low-risk, individuals incarcerated for nonviolent offenses. The Davidson County district attorney and public defender agreed on the release of dozens of inmates, 25 of whom had been released.
March 27 — Tennessee prisoners who’ve been granted parole aren’t being released because they’ve been unable to complete required programming that’s been suspended or reduced to accommodate social distancing.
March 30 — Knox County judges ordered the Sheriff’s Office to book and then release people charged with misdemeanors or nonviolent felonies rather than jailing them. People charged with domestic violence or drunken driving are exempt from the order, and prosecutors can seek to block releases of individuals they believe are dangerous.
April 1 — Knox County detention facilities reduced their population by 20 percent in less than two weeks by not requiring bail for defendants charged with misdemeanors or, if the defendant is indigent, nonviolent felonies.
April 3 — Jail populations in West Tennessee are falling as coordination between judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement agencies has resulted in lower bail amounts, fewer arrests for nonviolent offenses, and some early releases.
April 8 — Hundreds of jail inmates and state prisoners have been released from incarceration. Judges, sheriffs, prosecutors, and defense attorneys worked together to reduce local jail populations, while the parole board agreed to revisit cases of defendants who were granted parole but were not able to complete programming required for them to be released.
April 8 — Under direction from the state supreme court to reduce jail populations, judges in the 9th Judicial District reduced the combined inmate population across six counties by 21% over five business days. County jails have allowed early release for some inmates serving sentences for lower-level, nonviolent offenses; granting good time credit; and shifting people onto community supervision.
April 20 — So far, 167 Davidson County jail inmates have been released early. Of that group, seven were re-arrested, including six for “public intoxication-type” offenses.
March 12 — Police in Bexar County (San Antonio) are suspending arrests for minor offenses.
March 16 — Judges in Travis County (Austin) are releasing more defendants on bond to reduce the jail population.
March 17 — Police in Fort Worth are issuing citations instead of arresting and booking people accused of low-level offenses.
March 18 — The district attorney in Harris County (Dallas) is not prosecuting individuals charged with many low-level, nonviolent misdemeanors.
March 21 — Harris County has reduced its jail population by 6.5%. Officials are identifying inmates who are over 50 and awaiting trial on nonviolent charges to see if they could be eligible for release. The county also released six of 12 pregnant women. On March 26, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office said it had reduced the population in three county jails from 8,500 to 8,000 over a week.
March 29 — The governor of Texas issued an executive order blocking individuals charged with or previously convicted of crimes involving violence or the threat of violence from being released on bond, receiving a commutation, or being placed on community supervision. The order also prevents automatic release on bond if the state is not ready for trial. It does allow judges to consider releasing inmates for health reasons. On April 10, a judge blocked the order, saying it violated the constitutional separation of powers.
March 31 — Harris County plans to release about 1,000 pretrial detainees charged with nonviolent offenses.
April 3 — Harris County released a handful of low-risk pretrial detainees before a district judge voided another judge’s order to reduce the jail population.
April 11 — Texas prisons have stopped accepting transfers of new inmates from county jails.
March 21 — The district attorney in Salt Lake County said officials planned to release at least 90 inmates, mostly women. All are nonviolent offenders and most were jailed for technical violations or failure to appear. Additional releases could total up to 200.
March 26 — The Department of Corrections asked the parole board to release 80 state prisoners who are within 90 days of their scheduled release and have an approved address in the community.
March 30 — Northern Utah jails are seeing decreases in their populations as police departments issue summonses for low-level, nonviolent offenses and jails release inmates early, either because their sentences are almost up or for good time credit.
April 11 — The Salt Lake County Jail is at 65% capacity, the lowest inmate count since 1983. The district attorney said the jail has released low-risk pretrial detainees and granted good time credit to release some nonviolent sentenced inmates early.
March 26 — The Vermont Department of Corrections has released more than 200 inmates since late February. The prison population has declined by 213 people since December.
March 20 — The commonwealth’s attorney, defense bar, jail, and courts in Prince William County are working to identify nonviolent offenders to release following call from the governor to reduce populations through sentence modifications, summons instead of arrest for misdemeanors, and alternatives to incarceration.
April 17 — Virginia’s total jail population has decreased 17% under new guidelines to reduce the number of inmates. The guidelines include allowing sentence modifications, issuing summonses instead of making arrests for low-level offenses, and releasing more pretrial detainees.
May 8 — The Department of Corrections approved early release for 230 individuals in state prison after the Legislature approved an emergency proposal from Gov. Ralph Northam granting DOC the power to release individuals who have less than a year left to serve and a record of good behavior. The governor’s administration estimates that 2,000 of the 30,000 people in state prisons fall into that category.
April 13 — In response to an order from the Washington Supreme Court, Gov. Jay Inslee said the Department of Corrections will grant early release 950 state prisoners. The individuals who will be released are serving sentences for nonviolent drug- or alcohol-related offenses, and those held on lower-level supervision violations. Some will have their sentences commuted and others will transition through a reentry program.
April 16 — The Department of Corrections has identified 1,100 state prisoners who will be released following the governor’s emergency order to reduce the prison population. The individuals who will be released are serving sentences for nonviolent, non-sex offenses. Some will receive sentence commutations, some will go through a “rapid reentry” program, and some will be furloughed.
April 1 — West Virginia jails reduced their combined jail population by 616 people. The overall prison population also declined. The state’s highest court has asked judges, magistrates, and prosecutors to identify pretrial detainees who could be released without posing a risk to public safety. The state prison system released 70 people who were serving short terms for violating the terms of their supervision, and extended weekend furloughs to two weeks for 70 more people.
March 12 — The Racine County Sheriff’s Office temporarily stopped accepting new prisoners except for violent felonies and misdemeanors that pose a threat to public safety. Domestic violence offenses are excluded.
May 8 — County jails and the Department of Corrections’ Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility have released 1,600 people since March 2. Most of those released were incarcerated for community supervision violations.
March 20 — The Fremont County jail has released 30 nonviolent inmates, including inmates who were close to the end of their sentences and people jailed for probation violations.
March 24 — The U.S. Bureau of Prisons has imposed a 14-day quarantine on all new prisoners coming into the system.
March 26 — A federal judge in New York City has ordered the release of 10 people facing deportation proceedings because their attorneys said they were at higher risk of getting coronavirus because of health problems.
March 26 — Attorney General William Barr issued new guidelines to the Federal Bureau of Prisons to explore releasing some at-risk inmates to home confinement. Out of 146,000 federal prisoners, one third have pre-existing health conditions and 10,000 are over the age of 60. Inmates serving sentences for violent crimes or sex offenses will not be eligible.
March 31 — The Federal Bureau of Prisons announced that beginning April 1, all federal prisoners will be confined to their quarters for at least 14 days. During that time, they will continue to have access to programming, such as educational programs and mental health treatment, “to the extent practicable.”
April 3 — The Federal Bureau of Prisons has transitioned 522 people to home confinement. Under broadened authority granted through the Cares Act, the attorney general is seeking to speed up releases to home confinement at prisons in Danbury, Conn.; Oakdale, La.; and Elkton, Ohio, where there have been outbreaks of coronavirus.
April 4 — Nine undocumented immigrants were released from the Bristol County jail in Massachusetts on ICE detainers. None of them had criminal records.
April 6 — Attorney General William Barr encouraged federal prosecutors to consider the risk of spreading coronavirus in making requests for bail.
April 16 — Forty-six people detained by ICE in the Bristol County jail in Massachusetts have been released in response to a lawsuit filed by Lawyers for Civil Rights.
April 23 — The Federal Bureau of Prisons broadened eligibility for individuals to be released on home confinement to include those who have served at least 25% of their sentences and have less than 18 months left. Prior guidelines only included prisoners who had served 50% of their sentences. Federal authorities have released about 1,500 prisoners to home confinement; the new guidelines would add about 200 more.
April 28 — The Federal Bureau of Prisons has moved more than 1,700 people convicted of nonviolent offenses to home confinement.
May 2 — A federal judge ordered the release of two people facing deportation proceedings because they have health conditions that put them at higher risk from COVID-19.
May 5 — A federal judge ordered the release of two immigrant detainees who were in ICE custody at the Bristol County jail in Massachusetts, bringing the total to 50.
May 13 — The Federal Bureau of Prisons has transitioned 2,431 people to home confinement.
May 13 — A federal judge in Michigan ordered the release of two immigrant detainees because pre-existing health issues made them more vulnerable to coronavirus.
March 28 — New York University’s Public Safety Lab reports that 277 jails it’s monitoring have reduced their total population by nearly 20 percent since March 1. Some Washington state jails have reduced their populations by nearly half.
May 8 — Ten states have acted to reduce the number of youth in locked detention facilities. The governors of Colorado and Michigan issued executive orders to speed releases. Eight additional states also reduced their populations of young people in detention: Illinois, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Virginia, and Georgia.
May 14 — The overall U.S. prison population fell by 1.6%, or about 20,000 people, in the first three months of 2020.
May 14 — Across the country, jails have seen more significant population decreases (30% on average) compared to prisons (5% on average), according to the Prison Policy Initiative.