banner ad

Prince William Commonwealth Attorney Facilitates Release of Non-Violent Offenders During Coronavirus

Manassas Regional Adult Detention Center

Amy Ashworth, Commonwealth Attorney to Prince William and the Cities of Manassas and Manassas Park, has made the decision to release non-violent offenders from the Prince William County/Manassas-Regional Detention Center in order to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus among detainees.

Mar. 20, The Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney said it is “responding aggressively to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 virus. We are taking proactive measures to prioritize public health and to fortify the vital functions of our office.”

According to Office of the Commonwealth Attorney, they are working with the defense bar, the jail and the courts to facilitate the release of non-violent offenders who do not pose a risk to the public.

“We are encouraging the use of alternatives to incarceration in appropriate cases, including house arrest, electronic monitoring and supervised pre-trial release.”

The Commonwealth Attorney’s Office remains mindful of its responsibility to protect the community from offenders who pose a threat to public safety.

“We will continue to oppose the release of persons charged with violent offenses, or sexual offenses, or that otherwise pose a danger to our community,”

Ashworth’s office said in a statement.

Experts are saying it is smart to act proactively to keep a virus from spread through a prison population. Verge interviewed Tyler Winkelman, co-director of the Health, Homelessness, and Criminal Justice Lab at the Hennepin Healthcare Research Institute in Minneapolis, about the risk COVID-19 coronavirus poses to prison populations.

“We know the coronavirus spreads quickly in closed spaces, like cruise ships, nursing homes — and jails and prisons,” Winkelman says.

One way to reduce the impact of the virus on jails and prisons, said Winkelman, is to avoid holding people for low-level offenses. Fewer people in the jails can allow people to spread out and have more room for social distancing, which is so important in slowing the transmission of the virus.

Despite the closure of Prince William County buildings to the public, the judicial system must remain operational.

“Our dedicated attorneys and support staff are proud to continue to serve the community in this unprecedented time of crisis.”

This is Ashworth’s first year serving as Commonwealth Attorney. Prior to that she served 19 years as Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney for Prince William County with Special Victim’s Unit, and before that she served as a prosecutor for the Town of Haymarket and City of Manassas Park.

© 2020, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

Facebook Comments
Print Friendly

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: News

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

banner ad