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Virginia reduces jail population by 17% amid coronavirus

The reduction can increase space within prisons and keep inmates farther apart as the coronavirus continues to spread.

RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia has reduced its jail population by 17% in response to the coronavirus outbreak. 

Gov. Ralph Northam said Friday that the jail population in the state was 24,000 on April 7, down 17% from March 1. Virginia has also seen a 67% decline in the number of new commitments for misdemeanors across the state. 

Northam said the reduction was achieved through various steps, including decreasing the number of low-risk offenders being held without bail in jails and using alternatives to jail such as home electronic monitoring. 

Critics say the state hasn’t moved quickly enough to reduce the number of people being held in state prisons. 

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