The Department of Corrections reports that, as of April 8, four employees have tested positive for COVID-19 and are in quarantine. No inmate has yet tested positive.
“Northampton County’s first priority is to protect public health,” says Lamont McClure. “We are working hard to keep the residents in our prison safe and to reduce the number of incarcerations during the pandemic. Since last week, twenty-four non-violent offenders have been granted furloughs.”
Currently, there are 583 inmates at the prison. The Department of Corrections is working with the District Attorney’s Office, the Public Defender and the Courts to reduce the number of incarcerations. The Prison is decreasing the number of inmates held at the prison via two methods. One, by identifying individuals who may be candidates for bail reductions for pending charges or probation violation detainees in order to release them. The District Attorney’s Office and the Public Defender have been involved in matters of bail reduction. Two, the Department of Corrections is identifying non-violent offenders for furloughs. These non-violent offenders are released from the Prison for a certain period of time (which can be extended by an Order of Court if circumstances require). So far, those individuals have, for the most part, been in the work release program, so they were in the community prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. During the furloughs, individuals are required to check in regularly with Department of Corrections officers.
After the furlough, the individuals are required to return to NCP and serve the balance of the minimum time they were supposed to be confined to the Work Release Facility. Furlough petitions are initiated by defense counsel, who check with the Department of Corrections to ensure there is no disqualifying disciplinary history, and then the District Attorney reviews the file before going to the Court for approval.
The furlough process is ongoing. Any early releases of individuals at NCP, and how those releases are done, must go through the District Attorney and then to the Court for approval.