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Hillsborough Releases Inmates As Prison System Addresses Coronavirus

Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister
Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office
Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister announced the inmate releases at a Thursday morning press conference.

Hillsborough County is releasing inmates as it prepares for the coronavirus. Sheriff Chad Chronister said the order applies to 164 people charged with minor offenses who cannot make bail.

"These low-level, non-violent offenders will be better served home with their families, helping them deal with this health crisis instead of being in our detention facilities simply because they don't have the economic means to bond out," Chronister said at a press conference early Thursday morning.

CORONAVIRUS: Complete Coverage from WUSF and Health News Florida

Chronister said there are no COVID-19 cases in the county jail system.

County jail populations are likely to increase, as the Florida Department of Corrections has said it will temporarily stop adding inmates to the state prison system. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who is president of the Florida Sheriffs Association, says he's discussing the issue with state officials. “This is an evolving situation that is being assessed each and every day,” he told the News Service of Florida.