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Prisoners to remain in custody, Montana Supreme Court rules

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“Town Crier” newsletter – Briefs from the Region (2) – 4/15/20

Two weeks ago, an emergency petition filed by the ACLU on behalf of Disability Rights Montana, one that called for the release of qualifying prisoners due to potential COVID-19 outbreaks in close quarters, raised eyebrows across the state. Attorney General Tim Fox even went as far as to call it an “astounding solution.” On April 14, the Montana Supreme Court unanimously voted to shoot down the petition, meaning the state is no longer mandated to consider options—however, according to Montana Public Radio, “Montana Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike McGrath last month asked city and county courts to consider releasing as many non-violent inmates from jail as possible.” ACLU of Montana Executive Director Caitlin Borgmann said, “We are deeply concerned to see the state gamble with people’s lives,” and Attorney General Fox applauded the decision, saying the measure would have “further jeopardized public safety at the time when we are all grappling with a pandemic and its fallout.”

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