Orange County inmates may be released under new policy due to pandemic

The State Attorney’s Office for Orange and Osceola Counties is implementing a new policy aimed at reducing the jail’s population during the pandemic.

The Orange County Jail is currently on lockdown as a result of a recent outbreak due to COVID-19.

State Attorney Monique Worrell said effective immediately, a new policy is in place to help reduce the incarcerated population.

"People who are being held in detention are already a vulnerable population," Worrell said. "They are frequently indigent and experience physical and mental ailments at a higher rate than the general public. It is critical to their health and the health of the facility employees that we take these steps. We all have a responsibility to mitigate the spread of COVID-19."

Orange County Corrections told FOX 35 News that there are currently 50 inmates and 17 staff infected with COVID-19.

Since the pandemic began, that brings the total of inmates to 378 and staff to 240.

So far, no deaths have been reported.

The state attorney said she has encouraged her prosecutors to dismiss non-violent, victimless misdemeanor crimes, like drug possession.

"When the accused does not pose a danger to the community or risk of flight and is not charged with a dangerous crime as defined by statute, the assistant state attorney shall request, consistent with the Florida statute, that that individual be released on their own recognizance or some non-monetary release condition," she said.

She added that all cases, including violations of probation, will be reviewed to find alternative non-jail resolutions, like community control.

She said this review will not apply to anyone who is a documented gang member or a registered sex offender.

A jail spokesperson said the facility will continue to follow safety and sanitation protocols to keep inmates safe.