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Montana courts asked to release nonviolent jail inmates to curb COVID-19 spread

Mike McGrath
Posted at 7:34 PM, Mar 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-23 23:20:44-04

HELENA - Montana Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike McGrath is asking judges statewide to release nonviolent and other jail inmates to reduce crowding and protect against the spread of coronavirus.

In a Friday letter, McGrath asked judges to review jail rosters and release, without bond, as many prisoners as they can.

McGrath noted that no cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, have been reported in Montana's jails, but "it it only a matter of time.

"Due to the confines of these facilities, it will be virtually impossible to contain the spread of the virus," he wrote.

A jail worker in Yellowstone County has tested positive for coronavirus. Sheriff Mike Linder said the employee contracted the disease outside the state and had limited if any contact with inmates.

Read his full letter here .

Last week, McGrath issued additional guidelines to limit the size of jury pools, delay bench trials and increase video conferencing to limit gatherings of groups.