BUFFALO, N.Y. — Although local jails are potential incubators for the spread of COVID-19, authorities are moving slowly, some not at all, to release inmates being held on low-level charges and parole violations, or who are at high risk of contracting the deadly virus.
Only 10 of 89 parolees being held in Erie and Niagara county jails for low-level violations had been released as of Friday, a week after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that 1,100 such parolees would be freed statewide.
Nor have any of the 225 inmates – 165 in Erie County, 60 in Niagara County – been released who are serving local jail sentences. They’re typically serving sentences of a year or less for misdemeanors crimes.
Part of the rationale authorities cite for maintaining the status quo is that no inmates in the jails have tested positive for the coronavirus. That overlooks the fact that no inmates have been tested in the county jails.