The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic is changing societies at rapid speed. Actions that were out of the question only weeks ago are now a reality. We can now add the release of low-risk inmates to the growing list of changes.
New Jersey’s chief justice of the state’s supreme court, Stuart Rabner, signed an order Sunday night to suspend or commute sentences being served by inmates as a condition of probation or a municipal court conviction, reported the New York Times.
At a presser on Monday, Governor Murphy said, “We are the only state in America doing this.”
The release of the inmates began this morning.
My top priority is the health and safety of ALL New Jerseyans – including those who are incarcerated.
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) March 24, 2020
Jails and prisons make social distancing nearly impossible. This raises the ethical dilemma of how to protect the country’s massive incarcerated population for the rapidly spreading COVID-19 virus.
Hopefully, NJ’s move inspires other states to protect their vulnerable inmate populations.