ACLU Requests Indiana Supreme Court to Identify Pre-Trial, High Health Risk Inmates for Release

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana petitioned the Indiana Supreme Court on Monday to take emergency steps to evaluate pretrial detainees and inmates who are at high risk of death due to COVID-19 and to release them. 

Those who are identified for release may be placed on home detention.  Other actions may include waiving bail requirements for pretrial detainees who do not pose an immediate threat, or determining a sentence reduction or suspension for certain inmates serving time. 

County sheriffs will be compiling a list for the judges to review.  The court will then release inmates who qualify.  The inmates who qualify may include those over the age of 65 or who have underlying medical conditions that make them more susceptible to COVID-19.  According to Marshall County Attorney Jim Clevenger, inmates incarcerated for a probation violation could qualify as well as those who would be released within six months. 

In a press release issued by the ACLU on Monday, it states that people in prisons and jails are vulnerable to virus outbreaks.  Once COVID-19 enters the detention facility it is nearly impossible to exercise social distancing as people are housed in close quarters. 

The ACLU states that 77 percent of Indiana’s correctional facilities and jails are already facing an overcrowding crisis.  They say some Indiana counties have taken steps to reduce their jail population due to COVID-19, but statewide action is necessary.

The Indiana Supreme Court has yet to rule on this petition.