Advocates Demand More Inmates Be Released From South Florida Jails

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A group of protestors gathered outside the State Attorney's office Thursday in downtown Miami demanding the release of more jail inmates, saying they're at risk because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The corrections department says 328 inmates and 99 staff members have tested positive for the virus so far. Those infected are being isolated and are being giving necessary protective equipment. 

Other advocates took to Zoom to discuss their concerns for those still incarcerated. 

“We demand State Attorney’s to stop the practice of over charging, up charging, pressuring police seeking incarceration for technical probation violations and investigate claims of wrongful convictions," Hendricks Sampson said through the online platform.

As of May 1, the State Attorney’s office announced the latest efforts of releasing inmates to court programs, house arrest and other forms of release so that they don’t sit in jail.

“In this time of concern for everyone’s health and overall safety, the jail population has been successfully reduced to 3,241 inmates as of May 6th, the lowest level it has been since 2007. The other almost 2,000 inmates remaining are charged with the most serious types of violent crimes," the office said in a news release.

But inmates' families and other advocates say that’s not enough. 

“This past week we lost a life of someone who was held in one of Miami’s jails, Charles Hobbs," said Zaina Alsous of the Dream Defenders. "He should still be with us and there’s no reason why he should be have lost his life due to medical negligence.” 

Hobbs was a convicted sex offender who had failed to register as an offender four times. He was still in jail when he got sick with the virus.

The only inmates that are not considered for early release or released to alternate programs are violent offenders.

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