SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– During a virtual press conference on Thursday, Aug. 27, Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott listened to a number of concerns regarding the safety level of the inmates held in the Greene County jail during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Sheriff confirmed to Ozarks First Reporter Bailey Strohl, there are currently 31 inmates and 17 members of the jail’s staff infected with COVID-19. There were 800 inmates in the jail at the time of this report.
During the press conference, Missouri State Representative and House Minority Leader Crystal Quade raised a number of concerns up to the sheriff. One of these concerns was the lack of testing provided to those released from the jail.
Sheriff Arnott confirmed his office does release inmates without testing them. And if they are already positive, there’s a plan in place.
“We give them a form if they’ve tested positive and we also then inform the health department that this person is being released,” the sheriff said Thursday. “This is their information and the health department then follows up just like they do with anybody else.”
Quade says she and others would like to see inmates who are high-risk and non-violent released, and claims the Greene County Jail already practiced this preventative method back in April.
“We know that they can discern between who needs to be in the prisons and who does not need to be in the prisons,” Quade said. “They did so, they reversed course as the pandemic has continued and that’s another point that we find unacceptable.”
But Sheriff Arnott says it is up to each judge to set a bond.
“The sheriff has zero authority over that,” he responded.
“The courts and the prosecutor the ones that set that by setting a bond and conditions. If they feel strongly about the person doesn’t need to be there. Then they need to do a fundraiser and post their bond and I would be supportive.”