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ROCKLAND, Maine — Twenty inmates have been released from the Knox County Jail to prevent the potential spread of the coronavirus.
Knox County Sheriff Tim Carroll said that figure represents about 25 percent of the jail’s total population in the past week.
No one in the facility is suspected of having the virus, but as COVID-19 spreads across Maine, the state’s jails and prisons are trying to prevent the virus from spreading within correctional settings. One way to prevent an outbreak within a facility is decreasing the number of inmates who reside in them.
Carroll did not specify whether the released inmates are awaiting trial or if they are currently serving sentences after being convicted. He also did not indicate the nature of their criminal charges.
“We all take our responsibility seriously to ensure that we only release after thorough review, discussion and consideration. It is certainly a team effort of corrections staff, administration, our programming partners, the district attorney’s office, justices of the state and defense attorneys carefully reviewing before allowing persons out of confinement,” Carroll said in a statement.
Knox County Jail is a 70-bed correctional facility located in Rockland.
Officials at the Cumberland County Jail also have freed a number of inmates there who were less than 90 days away from being released and did not pose a threat to the public.
In addition to early releases, Maine’s county jails are asking law enforcement agencies to reduce the number of arrests made when possible and instead issue a court summons.
Watch: Symptoms of the coronavirus disease