Maryland County Admits It Has Not Kept Track of Which Inmates Are Being Released Due to the Pandemic

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An inmate in Montgomery County, Maryland has allegedly been arrested for murder after being released on bond due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the incident has uncovered a disturbing problem: the county does not know exactly which inmates it has released.

According to The Washington Post, 26-year-old Justin A. Wilson of Germantown, Maryland, was arrested late last month and charged with first-degree murder after he allegedly stabbed a man to death in his home.

Previously, Wilson, who the Western Journal reports has a lengthy rap sheet riddled with theft and burglary-related charges, had been in jail awaiting several charges of theft.

Wilson filed for release on April 23, citing the “immediate threat posed by [the] COVID-19 pandemic.” On April 30, Kevin Lewis of local outlet WJLA reports, he was released from the Montgomery County Correctional Facility in Clarksburg.

Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Richard Jordan held a telephone hearing to determine Wilson’s release. According to court records, that hearing lasted just under six minutes and resulted in Judge Jordan granting Wilson a $5,000 unsecured personal bond. This type of bond did not require Wilson to put any money down to secure his release.

After Wilson’s capture in Virginia in late July, Lewis had filed a Freedom of Information Act request that “sought the name, age, and release date of all defendants who’ve received compassionate releases due to COVID.”

“Now more than six weeks later, and I’m still waiting for those public records,” he tweeted earlier this month.

Last week, a Montgomery County spokesperson revealed the disturbing reason why they could not honor Lewis’ FOIA request for the names and ages of inmates released: they did not know.

“A Montgomery County spokesman tells me that the Department of Correction and Rehabilitation has not kept track of which inmates it released due to COVID-19 health concerns,” Lewis tweeted. “Because of that, DOCR claims it cannot fulfil my June 24, 2020, public records request.”

In a report on the shocking revelation, Western Journal’s C. Douglas Golden explains that Montgomery isn’t just some quiet, rural county:

Montgomery County is adjacent to Washington, D.C., and contains some of its most populous suburbs. In 2019, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated its population at 1,050,688.

In other words, one of the 50 most populous counties in the United States seems to have no idea who has been let out of its correctional institutions.

Eliminating the possibility that county officials are lying and just don’t want the media to know — and that could lead to even worse conclusions — this is a lesson on how not to handle prison releases during the coronavirus crisis.

“Officials responsible for curtailing the spread of COVID-19 understood him to be in a high-risk health category releasing him pending sentencing,” Ramon Korionoff, a spokesman for the state’s attorney’s office, told WJLA, defending the decision to release Wilson.

“Unfortunately, he ended up killing someone while he was out,” Korionoff continued. “Police have arrested him, he was extradited from Virginia, and he remains held on no-bond status in the County jail per our request this past Wednesday. We will move forward to prosecute him for the murder of which he is accused.”

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