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MCAO: Fewer inmates in Valley jails, some released amid COVID-19

Posted at 9:59 AM, Apr 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-27 12:59:16-04

PHOENIX — Maricopa County officials have released data about the number of people charged in crimes and jailed amid the coronavirus pandemic.

According to data released last week, there were about 5,300 inmates housed in county jail facilities, as opposed to the average daily population of 7,500.

The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office instructed prosecutors early on to focus on in-custody defendants when filing cases. The cases would be prioritized based on the crime, history of the offender and victim information.

Cases that were determined to be not filed at this time are being reviewed and will be filed as necessary at a later date when it is safe to do so.

According to MCAO, the office filed 342 cases “to ensure the community would be protected from those who sought to do harm.”

Additionally, 56 low-level offenders, held on low bonds and not posing a risk to the community, were released.

About 100 inmates already convicted of crimes were allowed to remain at home when “work furlough” and “work release” programs were suspended.

“In addition to transitioning nearly 700 employees to a telework force, this office has taken great strides to reduce the number of those who must interact with the criminal justice system during the pandemic,” Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel said in a press release. “However, this community can be sure these efforts were executed with public safety as the office’s top priority and those who committed crimes during this time will be held accountable when it is safe and prudent to do so.”