Washington County jail releases more inmates in COVID-19 preparation


FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The Washington County jail population thinned out by about 72 inmates Friday as law enforcement prepared for the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak inside the jail.

The released inmates were charged with non-violent crimes, said Prosecuting Attorney Matt Durrett, and they’ll wear electronic monitors until their court dates.

“[Jail administrators] were careful to make sure that they weren’t putting anyone back out on the streets that posed a risk to society,” Durrett said. “The jail had contacted a company that had ankle monitors, and so they were able to cut a deal with that organization.”

All inmates chosen for release are non-violent and in certain vulnerable categories, said Chief Deputy Jay Cantrell.

“Part of that group were people that had certain health issues, people that were pregnant and then people that were older than 45,” Cantrell said.

The virus could spread quickly and violently if it does indeed infiltrate the jail, Cantrell said.

“[We’re] doing everything we can just to limit intakes into the jail,” Cantrell said. “We know if it comes into the jail, it’s gonna come in from the outside.”

The plan is to keep monitoring the situation for more possible releases, Durrett said. He commended the sheriff’s office.

“They’re doing a fantastic job in a difficult situation,” Durrett said.

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