JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Nearly 50 more nonviolent, low-level offenders were released this month from the Duval County jail.
The latest releases bring the total number of inmates released to 550 as part of an effort to lower the jail population and control the spread of the coronavirus, according to a spokesperson for the State Attorney’s Office.
This comes as the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has spent the last month dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak inside the Pre-Trial Detention Facility.
Friday, the Sheriff’s Office announced 441 inmates had tested positive for the coronavirus since June 20.
According to the State Attorney’s Office, at least some of the inmates released so far are among those who’ve tested positive.
Sheriff Mike Williams said in a phone interview earlier this month that he believes the virus entered the facility after inmates and staff were exposed to a medical contractor with Armor Correctional Health Services who had shown symptoms of the coronavirus but failed to report those symptoms to jail personnel. The doctor later tested positive, according to the sheriff, and has since been fired.
Armor Correctional Health Services said in a statement that while it doesn’t discuss employee matters with third parties, “an investigation into how COVID-19 entered the facility and spread is underway. It is premature to draw any overriding conclusions at this time.”
It’s not the only facility dealing with an outbreak.
The Duval Regional Juvenile Detention Center has five youths and one staff member who have tested positive, according to the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice.
Florida’s prison system recorded 235 new coronavirus cases and two inmate deaths over the weekend, according to the state Department of Corrections.
The Sheriff’s Office said it hasn’t opened a separate investigation into the medical contractor who broke protocol because Armor Correctional Health Services took the initiative and released the employee.