Local activists hold protest over Zoom for inmate release


BINGHAMTON, NY – Local activists continue to pressure county leaders to release vulnerable inmates from the Broome County Jail.

Members of JUST, Truth Pharm and Citizen Action held a Zoom rally today to share stories by loved ones of people currently incarcerated in the correctional facility.

They shared concerns over inadequate sanitation and the belief that corrections officers are bringing the virus into the facility.

They all expressed fear over the threat to their health and safety.

“My loved one is scared. He feels and I feel it’s unfair and unethical. I think measures need to be taken to ensure proper medical treatment. The coronavirus is spreading inside the G Pod like a wildfire and they sent him right back into there,” says the girlfriend of one of the inmates.

Protestors have held numerous rallies demanding that inmates being held on low-level offenses and those with underlying medical conditions be released.

Sheriff Dave Harder says 11 inmates and 13 corrections officers have tested positive for the virus so far.

Harder says all of the infected inmates have been treated and then quarantined in the jail’s medical unit before being released back into the general population.

He says none have required hospitalization and there have been no deaths.

The Sheriff says his administration is taking all necessary steps to ensure the safety of guards and prisoners.

That includes masks for CO’s and masks for inmates when they’re out of their cells.

Guards get their temperature taken twice a day and inmates once.

And Harder says there is plenty of cleaning and sanitizing, with staff steam cleaning cells where inmates have tested positive and prisoners given disinfectant to clean their own cells.

“In the pods, all of the chairs were all anchored down. We un-anchored them and they’re spread out so that they’re 6 feet apart. So, there’s no reason that anybody has to be close to anybody else,” says Harder.

Harder stresses that he does not have the authority to release inmates.

District Attorney Mike Korchak says the process for early release depends upon whether the inmate is serving a sentence or awaiting trial.

Those awaiting trial can have their attorney appeal to the county court judge handling the case.

But if someone is already serving a sentence, then the lawyer must file a writ with a state judge seeking release.

Korchak says only those who’ve been able to prove an underlying medical condition have been granted release.

He says of the 7 that have filed, 2 were approved and 5 denied.

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