Advocates urge release of prisoners as Arizona fights virus

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Posted at 7:39 AM, Apr 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-17 21:17:50-04

PHOENIX (AP) — As the coronavirus surfaces in Arizona prisons, advocates for inmates worry that they’re running out of time to persuade Gov. Doug Ducey to avoid a larger outbreak by releasing some of the 42,000 people who live in close quarters behind bars.

The Republican governor has insisted he won’t free prisoners in response to the pandemic, even as other states are reducing prison populations to increase social distancing behind bars and local authorities across Arizona have released at least 300 nonviolent inmates from county jails.

Ducey has not explained why he won’t release inmates. Corrections officials say the health and safety of staff, inmates and communities are their top priority.