Sen. Jim Honeyford is calling on the Department of Corrections to develop a plan to prevent inmates who are released from spreading COVID-19 to other members of the general public. The Sunnyside Republican is responding to the governor’s decision to release up to 950 inmates from the state’s correctional facilities in order to protect them from contracting the virus.
“I recently participated in a conference call during which it was mentioned that the British Columbian government requires Canadians returning to that province to fill out a quarantine plan and list where they are staying,” explained Honeyford. “This looks like a reasonable plan that our state government should follow prior to turning felons out on the street without a home or resources needed during the crisis.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement Tuesday morning that the B.C. provincial requirement would be expanded nationwide, as a “strengthening of the Quarantine Act” of March 25 by putting in place a plan to house those without proper quarantine arrangements.
“If their plan is to go stay in a place where there are many elderly family members, [or they] don’t have a set destination if they’ve been out of the country for many years,” that would constitute a non-credible plan, Trudeau told reporters.
Honeyford voiced concerns that Gov. Jay Inslee’s plan to release hundreds of inmates without having such plans in place is reckless and shortsighted.
“Governor Inslee and DOC made a hasty decision to release these inmates due to a court ruling that forced them to act quickly – perhaps too quickly,” said Honeyford. “State facilities are better equipped to enforce social distancing and address the housing, medical and psychological needs of inmates; yet the current DOC strategy is to put these people out on the street and back into our communities without a plan. Many will have no home to self-isolate at and could pose a risk to the public should they become or are already infected with coronavirus.
“Having a plan in place before they are released is not only a necessity, but basic common sense.”