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Shelby Co. jail population reduced by hundreds due to COVID-19 concerns

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich made it clear the doors are not being opened at 201 Poplar and everyone isn’t going free. Particular inmates are being let out due to the public health crisis at hand but their case will still go through the system.

“We’re at about 1,700 inmates," said Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner. "Here about a month ago we were up around 2,300 or so with the attorney generals office, the public defender’s office, the judges all of our law enforcement officers, private attorneys to get people out of jail.”

Floyd said on Friday the jail population at 201 Poplar has been reduced by about 500 inmates. Latest Memphis News A practice that began about a month ago because of the coronavirus pandemic -- a way to reduce the prison population.

“What we don’t want to do is substitute a public safety crisis for a public health crisis," said Weirich.

Weirich says for that reason inmates that were released are not accused of violent crimes. The team considers criminal history, ties to the community and education.

Weirich told me the first inmates released pleaded guilty and were put on probation. The other inmates were released with no bond or one they could pay. Weirich says it is not a get out of jail free card.

“They need to be mindful that those changes are still pending and the last thing we want is for them to victimize more citizens in our community," she said.

Bonner says there are five inmates who have tested positive for the coronavirus. The sheriff says they have been moved to a separate area at the Shelby Correctional Center in Mullins Station with medical staff available.

Weirich also wants to remind people that the courts are open if you get a subpoena, Press Release Distribution Service you have to show up and if you are a victim of a crime report it.

“We’re here every day," said Weirich. “We’re hearing and we need victims to testify.”

Weirich told WMC inmates who are released are tracked to try to ensure they do not commit more crimes and to make sure they show up in court

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