DOYLETOWN >> In a cooperative effort to manage the spread of COVID-19 within the state and county prison systems, a number of inmates have been identified and screened for early release or supervision in place of total confinement, according to the Bucks County District Attorney's office.
As a result of this undertaking, the population of the Bucks County Correctional Facility has been reduced by about 30 percent since the start of the crisis. Temporary release of state prisoners was set to begin as early as April 14.
"The release of certain inmates from our prisons is a necessary move to ensure the safety and health of the staff at these facilities, as well the inmate population," said a statement from the D.A.'s office.
With respect to the release of county inmates, the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office has had considerable input throughout the process, though some inmates have been released or placed on house arrest despite its objections.
“Despite some prisoners being released over our objections, we continue to work with the prison to strike a balance between public safety and the safety of those working in the jail, versus the jail’s ability to safely manage both the sick and healthy jail populations during this COVID pandemic,” said D.A. Matthew Weintraub.
From the state prison system, the District Attorney’s Office has received a list of 22 inmates whose cases originated in Bucks County and are being considered for release.
"We have raised objections to the release of the vast majority, agreeing preliminarily to the release of four of those prisoners," said Weintraub. "Each of these four were within 90 days of their minimum sentences, and had not committed crimes of violence or against any victim. The state announced this afternoon that one of the four inmates, Bryan Thomas Fritz, was released Tuesday."
Any state inmates who are released will not be transferred to the county prison, nor will county resources be used to supervise them, as they will remain under the watch of the state system.
At a later point some inmates may be returned to prison, including county inmates, to serve the remainder of their terms of incarceration.