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About 80 Utah inmates to leave prison a few months early because of coronavirus concerns

By Annie Knox, KSL | Posted - Mar. 26, 2020 at 6:26 p.m.

SALT LAKE CITY — An initial wave of about 80 inmates will be released early from the Utah State Prison next week, a move to free up room there amid concerns about the spread of coronavirus.

Those set to be released starting April 3 are already within 90 days of their parole date, according to the Utah Department of Corrections, which announced the change Thursday on its website.

There have not yet been any confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the prison, the agency said.

”The board shares the heightened concerns of advocates, loved ones and corrections professionals for the health and safety of incarcerated and community-based offenders during the current outbreak,” Dennis Moxon, director of the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole, said in a statement. Moxon said they are working to find still more in the prison who could be allowed back into society early without jeopardizing their own progress or compromising public safety.

An additional wave of inmates will be allowed to leave in the next month, and the board said it will continue to evaluate whether further releases are needed.

A corrections spokeswoman did not answer questions about the specific reasons for the release.

Prison managers stressed that those who are eligible for the early exit were previously scheduled for release within a short timeframe. An offender’s scheduled release date can be found through the board’s website.

The Salt Lake County Jail has similarly released dozens deemed low risk, most of them women, as it seeks to ensure there are beds available for violent offenders.

Annie Knox

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