Iran released more than 80,000 prisoners in an attempt to slow the spread of Covid-19, and now several other countries are doing the same thing. The U.S., Germany, and Canada have released thousands of inmates in the name of health.
Germany plans to release 1,000 prisoners close to the end of their sentences, excluding sex offenders and violent inmates.
By emptying cells, they can free up space to quarantine those who fall ill.
Canada released 1,000 inmates last week and plans to release many more.
Daniel Brown, a Toronto lawyer, said:
“The concern is that a jail sentence can potentially become a death sentence for those that are there.”
New Jersey plans to temporarily release about 1,000 low-risk inmates, while New York City’s Board of Corrections recommended releasing 2,000.
Britain, Poland, and Italy are considering the same thing, and will try to monitor those released so that they don’t commit new crimes.
If the crisis continues, prisons could release more prisoners, eventually letting go of those considered more dangerous.
Keith Ditcham, a senior research fellow in organized crime and policing at Britain’s Royal United Services Institute, said:
“What do you do when things return to normality? You have a number of undesirables either in your country or traveling globally … It puts the whole law enforcement effort back by a significant margin.”