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Lake County takes precautions against COVID-19 at jail

A circuit judge in Lake County has ordered the release of 42 jail inmates as a precaution against the spread of COVID-19.

There’s no evidence yet of coronavirus at the jail.

Circuit Judge Heidi Davis freed the non-violent offenders, who were in the Lake County Detention Center awaiting sentencing for misdemeanors or third-degree felonies.

The Hillsborough County sheriff has announced a similar measure, releasing 164 inmates. And Osceola County is also weighing the option.

Lake County Lt. John Herrell says the decision was a common sense measure involving the Sheriff’s Office, State Attorney’s Office, Public Defender’s Office and the court.

The move reduces the number of inmates in case the pandemic affects staffing or inmate health. Herrell says the jail population was seven-hundred-seventy-eight on Wednesday after the release. Its maximum is nine hundred.

They’ve also halted transfers to and from other facilities, canceled in-person visitation and volunteer programs, and started screening all incoming inmates and employees for a fever.

Note: This article has been corrected to add that some inmates being released had been charged with third-degree felonies, based on new information from the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.

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