Ramsey County jail population has been reduced by 54 percent since start of pandemic

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ramsey County has reduced its jail population drop by more than half.

Since mid-March, the county attorney's office says the Ramsey County Adult Detention Center population has been reduced by 54 percent and the workhouse has been reduced by 55 percent.

Officials say they have been working to balance public safety and public health by trying to determine who presents a greater risk to safety if released from jail.

The county is also using home monitoring along with probation as alternatives for people who have committed minor offenses. At the same time, prosecutors are working to review and resolve low-level cases.

Leaders say as the pandemic started, they quickly realized the threat the virus could pose for incarcerated people, guards, staff, and the larger public.

"As soon as the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in Ramsey County, partners across the justice system began taking immediate action to address public health risks in our detention and correctional facilities to significantly reduce the possibility of virus transmission," wrote officials.

Health experts say the coronavirus can spread quickly in large groups and advocates have warned that crowded jails and prison could become epicenters for the disease.