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COVID-19 Requesting early release for Georgia work release program residents

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According to the Georgia Department of Corrections (www.dcor.state.ga.us) There are 15 Reentry and Cognitive Programming Centers in operation statewide, two of which are designated to house female offenders. A total of 2,674 transitional beds are available, of which 346 are designated for female offenders. To have the opportunity to transfer to Reentry and Cognitive Programming, an offender must receive a referral from either the Board of Pardons of Paroles or the Classification Committee within a state prison which means all residents at the transitional centers earned their right to be placed there. Research has shown that offenders who have the opportunity to reenter the community after a stay in Reentry and Cognitive Programming are up to 1/3 more likely to succeed in maintaining a crime-free life.

As of March 20, 2020, There has been 14 deaths, 485 cases of coronavirus confirmed in Georgia. Three inmates have tested positive for the coronavirus in Georgia as well as a Georgia Department of Corrections employee has tested positive for coronavirus.

Georgia Department of Corrections are still allowing residents to work outside the facilities. Residents are at a higher chance of being exposed to the coronavirus than individuals in prison or jails because many of them have gone in and out of the facility for weeks to attend medical appointments, substance abuse support meetings, and to work at local businesses.

According to www.coloradoan.com, Larimer County Work Release Facility in Colorado has closed & released all their residents. 

According to www.wgme.com The work release program at Cumberland County Jail in Maine has suspended their program & some people have already been released early.

According to www.twincities.com, Ramsey County Correction Facility in Minnesota are allowing inmates serving work-release sentenced at the facility to serve their time via electronic home monitoring instead.

But given the potential widespread destruction that COVID-19 could cause inside the close confines of a prison, it would make more sense to send all work release-eligible prisoners home. Georgia Governor Brian P. Kemp and/or the parole board could reduce their sentences with the stroke of a pen. 

All offenders could be released & remain under parole supervision, including regular job checks. Some can even be confined to their homes or monitored using GPS tracking devices. 

We are asking the public to join together & sign off to agree for the governor, commissioner and/or the parole board to release work release residents early because social distancing is not an option for them especially since there are residents that are still being allowed to go out for work and all residents already prove that they are ready to go back into society on a daily basis, they have good behavior and all of them have already served the majority of their time. If the parole board can trust residents to leave for work everyday, why not just send them home in the midst of this pandemic? If we don’t take action now, COVID-19 will take over the transitional centers and spread it causing an even more increase in the virus.

According to the parole board, after every decision that they make, they state all the decisions made by the Board are tentative and may be changed at the discretion of the Board at any time. 

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