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Current And Former Arizona Legal Officials Urge Gov. Ducey To Release Inmates

A letter from a group of former state attorneys general, chief justices, and other legal experts urges Gov. Doug Ducey to reduce the Arizona prison population to prepare for a potential COVID-19 outbreak.

Former Attorney General Grant Woods says he thinks inmate furloughs would be possible through an order from the governor or the courts.

“He should work to release non violent offenders, who, perhaps their sentences are coming up sometime soon anyway," Woods said. "Especially if they’re particularly susceptible to the virus because of their age or medical condition.”

Woods says he thinks removing some minimum-custody offenders would allow the Department of Corrections to create safer conditions for inmates and staff.

The letter warns of the possibility of staffing shortages as more correctional officers are infected with the virus, which could lead to security concerns.

The Department of Corrections is not disclosing the number of staff that have been infected. As of Wednesday, 17 inmates in state prisons have tested positive for COVID-19.

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Jimmy Jenkins is a senior field correspondent at KJZZ and a contributor to NPR’s Election 2020 and Criminal Justice station collaborations. His work has been featured on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Marketplace, Here and Now, The Takeaway and NPR Newscasts.Originally from Terre Haute, Indiana, Jenkins has a B.S. in criminology from Indiana State University and a master’s degree in journalism from Indiana University.Much of his reporting has focused on the criminal justice system. Jenkins has reported on Tasers, body cameras, use of force, jail privatization, prison health care and the criminal contempt trial of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.