Pinellas Sheriff Releases About 200 Inmates To Relieve Overcrowding

2 hours ago

The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office has significantly reduced its jail population after detainees were forced to sleep on the floor because the Florida Department of Corrections stopped accepting inmates from county jails.

At a press conference Saturday about the closure of Pinellas beaches due to coronavirus, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said his agency released about 200 people, and that Pinellas deputies are working to keep the jail population low, including making fewer arrests.

"The officers and the deputies are making good decisions as we ask them to do about using alternatives such as notices to appear and using discretion to make an arrest so that the normal amount of arrests that we see in the jail it's probably about a quarter to a third of what it ordinarily is," said Gualtieri.

He said he’s been in contact with the State Attorney’s Office and others to get these releases through the normal system process.

Last week, the Pinellas jail had about 220 people sleeping on the floor, Gaultieri said. That number was reduced to 60 by Saturday, he said. The Florida Department of Corrections stopped accepting inmates from county jails to stop the spread of cornavirus. 

"We had a maxed-jail population," Gaultieri said. "We released a couple hundred yesterday, but it's being done through the normal process."