Online petition calling for non-violent inmates to be released from local jails

Signatures at almost 500
A Petition To Get Some South East Kansas Inmates Released

PITTSBURG, Kan. – An online petition is pushing for non-violent inmates to be released from southeast Kansas jails because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The petition calls for non-violent offenders or those who have compromised immune systems, to be released from county jails.

“I’m not asking for… them [to] just open up the doors and let them out. But I do believe that they should have a chance to try to protect themselves properly from the virus,” says Kaitie Lyman, one of the writers of the petition.

There have been almost 700 confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the Lancing Correctional Facility in Leavenworth County, Kansas. The Kansas Department of Corrections today also announced the death of a staff member at the facility, who died on May 11th due to complications from the virus.

Lyman says she doesn’t want that to happen to people who may be in for minor crimes.

“There’s people in there on marijuana charges that are potentially being given a death sentence because they’re stuck in there. And once one worker brings the virus in then, as we’ve seen with Lancing, it spreads so quick that it’s unbelievable,” says Lyman.

KOAM reached out to the Kansas Department of Corrections.

They say there’s been 15 adults released, all of them placed on house arrest. 16 minors have also been released from a juvenile detention facility, all of them on reintegrating passes. They were all minimum level offenders and will finish the rest of their sentences that way, unless “their behavior requires going back,” says a representative with DOC.

The Department of Corrections also says according to state law, the only people they can release by those means are minimum level offenders.

KOAM also reached out to some of our local county sheriffs.

-Crawford County Sheriff Danny Smith says they have not released any inmates and is not aware of any plans to do so. They currently have 48 inmates at the jail, and the county is currently working to implement court via Zoom.

-Cherokee County Sheriff David Groves also says they have not released any inmates. He also says “The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office has not asked for any blanket modifications due to COVID-19.” There are currently 28 inmates at the Cherokee County Jail.

-Bourbon County Sheriff Bill Martin also says the county has not released any inmates due to COVID-19, unless they have been released on bond or through other normal court proceedings.

-Labette County Sheriff Darren Eichinger, says they currently have around 55 inmates. Which is lower than their typical 80. They have not released any inmates due to the pandemic.

-Wilson County Sheriff Pete Figgins says they have not released any inmates due to the pandemic either. Their current jail county is 28. They typically house around 50 inmates.

-The Woodson County Sheriff says the same thing — noting that they are currently holding one inmate who is waiting for a court date. They typically only have room for 10 inmates.

-Allen County Sheriff Bryan Murphy says there has been a number of non-violent offenders released from the jail. All of them were released on OR (Own Recognizance) bonds, with no one being placed on house arrest. He says there will be court dates for those inmates some time in June or July. Murphy says they went from holding around 55 inmates to around 15. He also says they are not taking any out of county prisoners.

If you want to read the petition in its entirety, follow the link below.