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Organizations call on Missouri Supreme Court to release inmates amid COVID-19 concerns

"We are asking the Court to act now, before the inevitable spread of COVID-19 affects potentially hundreds of inmates and their loved ones," the letter states
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Old priston with it's bars locked up

ST. LOUIS — A group of more than 30 Missouri organizations and medical professionals have drafted a letter to the Missouri State Supreme Court, calling for the release of prisoners amid growing COVID-19 concerns, according to ArchCity Defenders, a St. Louis legal advocacy organization.

“Missouri's jails are filled with some of the most vulnerable people in the state, and the reality of incarceration means jails are hot spots for disease even under normal circumstances,” said Mary Fox, Director of the Missouri State Public Defender office.

The letter to the Missouri State Supreme Court calls for the release of prisoners who fall into one of the following categories:

  • those currently serving sentences in any city or county jail in Missouri pursuant to a conviction for a misdemeanor offense
  • those currently serving sentences in any city or county jail in Missouri pursuant to a conviction for a municipal ordinance violation
  • those confined pretrial on nonviolent misdemeanor, municipal ordinance violation, or nonviolent C, D, and E felony charges
  • those confined on technical probation violations or probation violations based on allegations of a nonviolent felony 
  • those in high-risk categories likely to face serious illness or death, such as pregnant women, immunocompromised persons, and those over 60 who pose no threat to the public

While the letter praises the Missouri State Surpreme Court’s efforts to limit in-person court proceedings, the letter also urges the court to apply the same effort to those who are incarcerated.

Some of the organizations and professionals that endorsed this letter include:

  • Mary Fox - Director, Missouri State Public Defender
  • Adolphus M. Pruitt, II - President, St. Louis City Branch of NAACP
  • Women’s Voices Raised for Social Justice
  • Behavioral Health Network of Greater St. Louis

Due to growing pressure from advocates, 50 people have been released from St. Louis City jails, and St. Louis County officials anticipate the release of 100 people in the near future

CONTINUING CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE:

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