40 nonviolent inmates released from Lake County jail to prevent COVID-19 outbreak

  • Forty inmates at Lake County jail in Waukegan were released last week in an effort to reduce the chances of a COVID-19 outbreak, the sheriff's office said Monday.

      Forty inmates at Lake County jail in Waukegan were released last week in an effort to reduce the chances of a COVID-19 outbreak, the sheriff's office said Monday. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer, 2013

 
 
Updated 3/30/2020 6:40 PM

Forty nonviolent inmates who had fewer than 45 days remaining on their sentences were released from Lake County jail in Waukegan last week as part of an effort to prevent a COVID-19 outbreak behind bars.

No inmates or correctional employees have tested positive for coronavirus, sheriff's Sgt. Christopher Covelli said Monday.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Covelli said the sheriff's office, the state's attorney's office, the public defender's office and the 19th Judicial Circuit Court collaborated on the decision.

"We have been learning COVID-19 is a virus that thrives when people are in close proximity to one another," Covelli said. "Unfortunately, this means the jail is an ideal place for the virus to quickly spread to inmates and correctional officers."

Covelli said since February the sheriff's office has worked with medical experts to establish protocols that minimize the risk.

"We are using every tool at our disposal," Covelli said.

The 40 inmates who were released are still required to follow the terms of their probations, and Covelli said the sheriff's office is working with criminal justice partners to use tools already in place such as electronic monitoring.

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Covelli said Monday the jail has a capacity for 740 people and currently is housing 479 inmates.

Covelli said it was too early to say whether the sheriff's office will conduct another round of coronavirus-related early releases.

"This is a health crisis that is changing every hour, and we are adapting, planning and executing contingency plans," Covelli said.

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