Coronavirus Coverage from KARK

86 inmates released from Pope County jail in attempt to slow COVID-19 spread

Coronavirus

RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. — Several Pope County Detention Center inmates are being released following a COVID-19 outbreak.

The Pope County Sheriff’s Office said they had to take drastic measures to ensure the safety of everyone else there. 

86 inmates who are non-violent offenders are in the process of being released, one of them is Taylor Brown.

“I was pretty shocked,” Brown said. “I kinda wasn’t banking, banking on really getting a release.” 

Over the past weekend, 219 inmates and 26 employees at the detention center were tested for COVID-19. 14 correctional officers and 88 inmates’ results came back positive.

“As far as what the guards do, you know, they’d like move certain people around,” Brown said. 

Many of them were asymptomatic. 

“I was right on top of one of the inmates that did test positive,” Brown said.

The Sheriff’s Office said the capacity for the detention center is 172 but over the past few months, they’ve had 237 inmates inside.

“In my barracks alone, there were like 20 people sleeping on the floor with mats,” Brown said. “Like and then we had all of our bunks full and they would constantly bringing in people.”

In a statement, Sgt. Rodney McNeese said, “ While none of us want inmates released before they have served their time, this was necessary to aid in halting the virus within the facility.”

McNeese went on and said, “While every precaution has been taken within our facility through cleaning, sterilizing, and isolating, the inevitable has now taken a foothold.”

Meanwhile, those who were released were advised to quarantine.

“And after that, I have to go back to court,” Brown said.

Brown describes the situation as scary and said he has seen some mild symptoms.

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