Prayer vigil to urge releasing inmates

By Jamie Duffy | Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
April 15, 2020

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Local Faith in Indiana leaders will join a statewide virtual prayer vigil at noon Tuesday to pray that local county officials will heed a request from state officials to release sick and low-level offenders to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

“Whether you are from the south side or live in Dupont, white, black, or brown, all of us are realizing at this moment that our health is dependent on the health of the person next to us and that includes the people sitting behind bars,” said Timothy Murphy, co-chair of Safe in Allen County and senior pastor of Plymouth Congregational Church.

On April 3, Gov. Eric Holcomb; Loretta Rush, chief justice of Indiana; Rodric Bray, Senate President Pro Tem; and Todd Huston, speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives, issued a letter encouraging local judges, sheriffs and county leaders to consider releasing low-risk, nonviolent juveniles and inmates into their communities under pretrial, probation or community corrections supervision.

At the end of March, 20 inmates were released from the Allen County Jail. This week, Steve Stone, public information officer for the Allen County Sheriff’s Department, said he was not aware of any plans to release more inmates. Jail authorities are keeping incoming inmates separate from the general population, and inmates are not allowed to move within blocks, Stone said.

The state letter said the call for early release was not a question of being “soft on crime. But rather a matter of need in a time of a widespread public health emergency affecting our entire state.”

The Rev. Karen Staton, senior pastor of Destiny Life Center on Warsaw Street who is Faith in Allen County co-chair, said there are inmates “who have made small mistakes or simply do not make enough to pay minor infractions and fees.”

Registration is required to join the Zoom prayer vigil. Information and a link can be found on the Faith in Indiana Facebook page.

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