The Next Generation Action Network is demanding the release of some inmates held in the Dallas County Jail on misdemeanor and/or felony charges after an inmate was confirmed to have contracted the novel coronavirus.
The inmate was confirmed to have contracted COVID-19 Wednesday morning and was isolated. Four other inmates were symptomatic and were quarantined while being tested.
NextGen founder Dominique Alexander said in a prepared statement that since many people are held in the jail ahead of trial, presumed to be innocent, they should be released since trials are currently on hold due to the county's shelter-in-place order.
Full coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak and how it impacts you
In his statement Wednesday, Alexander outlined six demands including the immediate release, without hearings or judicial process, of all inmates held at the Dallas County Jail on misdemeanor charges. He also demanded felony district judges agree on a list of felony offenses that could also be granted a personal recognizance bond without judicial process to have those inmates released.
Alexander also demanded the release of those held on technical violations of probation or violations that were not "serious new felony allegations" with the supervision of the Dallas County Community Supervisions and Corrections Department.
Those inmates that remained in the jail, Alexander said should be distanced from each other to prevent further infection.
Lastly, Alexander demanded judges agree on a videoconferencing solution for bond hearings and other matters of the court as well as the reinstatement of a previous order allowing automatic release for defendants held on unfiled charges.
Alexander did not include a plan for testing inmates for COVID-19 exposure prior to their release or say if they should be kept in isolation elsewhere due to possible exposure to the virus.
Officials with the Dallas County Sheriff's Office, who manage the jail, released a statement Wednesday afternoon saying they were "working with our criminal justice partners in an attempt to release some inmates."