COVID-19: Gov. Brown to Consider Early Release of Vulnerable Prisoners

On Friday, Gov. Kate Brown disclosed that she has asked the state’s Department of Corrections for a list of prisoners that may be particularly vulnerable if infected with COVID-19, and for a list of steps to help prevent the spread of infection at the state’s detention facilities.   

In a prepared statement, the governor also disclosed that wishes to prioritize public safety, stating that she has no plans to abandon a case-by-case approach.   

The governor’s full statement: 

Governor Kate Brown issued the following statement today on calls for the early release of adults in custody in light of the COVID-19 pandemic:

“My top priority is keeping Oregonians safe and healthy—regardless of where they are living—as we focus on stopping the spread of COVID-19.

“Each state agency is impacted in different ways by COVID-19, and faces unique challenges as they work to maintain their primary functions and services. I have directed agency heads to provide me with detailed information on how this virus is impacting their work, so we can make the best decisions about how to operate in the current environment.

“I asked the director of the Department of Corrections (DOC) to provide me with data on adults in custody who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, as well as for detailed information on a number of steps we could potentially take to further slow the spread of this disease while continuing to keep the public safe.

“I look forward to reviewing the information DOC provides, and I will continue to assess new information in order to make the best, data-informed decisions as the COVID-19 situation evolves. I believe this is the responsible thing to do.

“However, it would be irresponsible to compromise public safety for indeterminate benefits to public health. Whether an adult in custody should be released before the end of their sentence or not is a decision that must be weighed based on the individual merits of their situation. I want to be clear: at this time, I have no specific plans to abandon that case-by-case approach.”