TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – New Jersey’s Supreme Court has ordered some county jail inmates to be released in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Chief Justice Stuart Rabner signed the order late Sunday night, allowing the inmates to be released this week.
Attorney General Gubir Grewal said Monday the order will apply to “people serving a year or less.”
“County jail, parole violation, disorderly person offenders will be released, unless there is a specific objection from a prosecutor,” he said.
They will resume their sentences when the health crisis ends, Grewal added.
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Prosecutors can file objections to the release of specific inmates, and those who are released will have to abide by any restrictions as part of their probation.
The order doesn’t apply to inmates serving in state prison on more serious crimes.
“I take no pleasure in temporarily releasing or suspending county jail sentences, but this is the most significant public health crisis we’ve faced in our state’s history, and it’s forcing us to take actions that we wouldn’t consider during normal times” said Grewal.
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Inmates who have already tested positive for COVID-19 won’t be released until a plan for isolation or mandatory self-quarantine is approved.
The state public defender’s had filed a petition to the state supreme court, arguing that keeping prisoners detained posed a public health threat.
On Sunday, officials in Hudson County said two inmates had tested positive for the coronavirus, prompting a modified lockdown of the facility housing them.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)