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Erie County: Additional defendants serving local jail time released early due to COVID-19 concerns

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Wed, May 6th 2020 06:00 pm

DA Flynn consented to motions to release individuals convicted of low-level offenses to prevent spread of the coronavirus in jail populations

Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn on Wednesday announced a total of 21 convicted defendants with 45 days or less remaining on their sentences have been released from the custody of Erie County jails in an effort to reduce inmate populations and reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Flynn consented to a motion filed by the Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo requesting, in the interest of justice, that individuals who have 45 days or less remaining on their sentence be released. A hearing was held Tuesday afternoon, allowing two defendants who were convicted of low-level, nonviolent offenses to be let out of jail early. The motion was granted by State Supreme Court Justice Deborah A. Haendiges.

Flynn previously consented to two other motions requesting the early release of locally jailed defendants. A motion was granted by Erie County Court Judge Susan Eagan on April 7 allowing for the release of 19 individuals from the holding center or the Erie County Correctional Facility. Another motion was granted April 17 State Supreme Court Justice Mark A. Montour allowing for the release of two more sentenced individuals. All were convicted of nonviolent, low-level offenses with 45 days or less remaining on their jail sentences.

“The only way to combat this virus is by distancing ourselves from one another. While the number of people in our jails has been significantly reduced under bail reform, I understand the potential for COVID-19 to spread quickly among inmates and correctional facility employees. In the interest of justice and public health, I consented to the release of these individuals to serve the remainder of their sentence at home,” Flynn said.

The DA’s office continues to review bail applications submitted by defense attorneys on behalf of pre-trail detainees. It will consent or oppose those motions on a case-by-case basis. As of May 5, the office had reviewed 101 bail motions. It consented to the release of 25 pre-trial defendants. Another 25 pre-trial detainees had their bail modified.

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