Judge denies SCSO’s request to dismiss lawsuit seeking immediate release of inmates

Judge denies SCSO’s request to dismiss lawsuit seeking immediate release of inmates

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A federal judge is allowing Shelby County Jail inmates to move forward with their lawsuit seeking to be released amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Sheriff’s Office had sought to have the case thrown out but the judge denied that motion Wednesday.

Instead, the judge says older and medically vulnerable inmates can qualify as a class in the lawsuit and the Sheriff must produce a list of people in that class.

Just City Memphis teamed with the ACLU and local attorneys to file the suit on May 20 in U.S. District Court on behalf of two inmates over the age of 60. According to the lawsuit, their ages and medical conditions put them most at risk of serious infection or death if they contract COVID-19.

The lawsuit says conditions inside the county jail don’t allow social distancing or proper hygiene. It asks the sheriff to identify medically vulnerable and disabled inmates and to let them go, as soon as possible.

Inmate release options in the lawsuit include supervised release with GPS tracking, placement at a halfway house, treatment center or hospital.

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