South Dakota won't give inmates releases because of virus

SIOUX FALLS (AP) – Authorities in South Dakota say they're not planning special releases for state prison inmates because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Some jails across the country, including in Rapid City, are taking measures to lower their populations. The parole board in North Dakota met Friday and gave early release dates to 56 prisoners.

South Dakota Department of Corrections spokesman Michael Winder told the Rapid City Journal that elderly and seriously ill inmates are allowed to apply for early release under “compassionate parole” laws, but there will be no special releases. The state Board of Paroles and Pardons is meeting next month.

The American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota has called on Gov. Kristi Noem to exercise her commutation power to help reduce the risk of inmates or prison staff contracting COVID-19. A spokeswoman for Noem said the governor has rejected that idea.

For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover.


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