By Ted Scouten

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – More than two dozen cars took part in a mobile protest on Friday, blowing horns and yelling chants while passing by the Broward State Attorney’s Office and the jail.

Protestors are rallying for inmates, wanting many of them released from jail for fear of the coronavirus. Already eight inmates have tested positive and one with health problems has died.

“COVID-19 in jail is a death sentence. It’s a death sentence to men and women who were never sentenced to death. There is no social distancing in jails and prison,” said a protester.

The Broward State Attorney’s Office says it began reducing the jail population last month and holds hours long daily hearings to decrease the number of inmates.

“We’ve been basically reviewing the cases of 50-60 people a night and most of those have been released. That’s a significant number of people,” said Maria Schneider with the Broward State Attorney’s Office.

The Broward Sheriff’s Office tells us on March 9, there were 3,487 people at the county jail.

A month later that number went down to 3,025, reducing the population by 462 people and the effort continues.

“We’ve basically been reviewing anyone that can reasonably be, keeping in mind the safety of the public, be released,” said Schneider.

Countywide, police and BSO are arresting fewer people. It is a conscious effort to keep the jail population down.

“We’ve taken more of a responsibly issuing our criminal citations, notice to appear to help that reduction,” said BSO sheriff Gregory Tony.

Meanwhile, outside the jail, protesters said, “Free them all. People should not die in jail because they are too poor to post bond.”

Prosecutors tell CBS4 there is no way everyone’s going to get out.

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Even in the midst of the protest, we saw more people being brought in. But the State Attorney’s Office says they, along with the sheriff and chief judge, are working to get the population down even more.

Hearings to reduce the jail population will continue daily. At least for the foreseeable future

Ted Scouten

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