JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Demonstrators in a caravan of cars and trucks protested outside the Duval County jail on Friday, calling for the release of non-violent offenders amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The protesters included members of the Jacksonville Community Action Committee, the New Florida Majority and Dignity Florida. According to a news release, the demonstrators are asking for action from Sheriff Mike Williams and State Attorney Melissa Nelson.
“We feel that all incarcerated individuals should be treated with compassion as well as dignity and respect,” said Angie Nixon, a protester.
Demonstrators said elderly inmates and the staff at the jail should be sent home as well.
Jacksonville attorney Gene Nichols said it’s unlikely that anyone will be released. He said that’s because of two main reasons:
- They’re waiting for their case to be heard
- They couldn’t make bond, and they were sentenced and are heading to the Florida prison system
“I do not anticipate many of these motions being granted,” Nichols said. “They would be very limited in nature and scope.”
Nichols said it’s more likely for someone to be freed from a state prison rather than a jail. He used Corrine Brown as an example.
“Federal court as we have seen with Corrine brown has different guidelines. They have some compassion rules that will allow for a prison to release somebody on home detection early,” Nichols said.
The protest and early release of inmates in federal prison because of COVID-19 is something Nichols said is unprecedented.
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office told News4Jax that in the past couple of weeks people have been isolated in some instances but that there have been no confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 at the Duval County jail.
The protest was one of several drive-by protests Jacksonville has seen in the last two weeks in Duval County, all of which have a theme of civil rights. On Saturday, #reopenFL demonstrators were calling for Gov. Ron DeSantis to end the shutdown of non-essential businesses.