State considering release of some Georgia prison inmates amid coronavirus pandemic

The State Board of Pardons and Paroles is reviewing cases for clemency for specific Georgia inmates to help manage the inmate population as the coronavirus pandemic continues to grow.

Inmates currently serving for non-violent offenses who are about six months away from completing their sentence within the Georgia Department of Corrections system are under review. Most of those offenders will be released to community supervision.

“The Board will be exercising its constitutional authority to affect releases with a goal of providing the Department of Corrections more flexibility in handling the impact of the COVID-19 virus within Georgia’s correctional system,” stated Parole Board Chairman Terry Barnard in a release sent to FOX 5 News.

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The move comes as the number of positive cases in the state approach 4,000 and the county jails in DeKalb and Fulton have inmates who have tested positive for COVID-19.

“The State Board of Pardons and Paroles understands the concerns and fully supports our state’s efforts to combat COVID-19, including safety protocols implemented by the Department of Corrections. The Parole Board is operating normally and will continue to use its constitutional authority to make clemency release decisions in the interest of public safety,” Barnard stated.

Georgia’s prison has already put into place several policies to help prevent the spread of infection within the prison system including banning all visitation, limiting the movement of inmates, sanitizing common spaces, and stepping up screenings.