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Mayor asks Sheriff Darnell to release non-violent offenders

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe has sent a letter to Sheriff Sadie Darnell, stating, in part, “In accordance with the Motion made and passed at the March 16, 2020 Emergency City Commission Meeting, the Gainesville Commission requests that non-violent offenders be released from the County’s detention facility. This concession would free up room for the social distancing necessary to encumber the spread of this disease.”

There is still very little information available about the exact motion passed at last Monday’s meeting. I made a public records request for the exact motion before the meeting even ended because they never stated the motion in full; I received an acknowledgment of the request on Wednesday, and it still hasn’t been fulfilled. As of mid-afternoon Saturday, there are no minutes posted for that meeting.

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From the transcript, only this statement from Mayor Poe could have possibly been included in the motion: “So what I heard from the commission and some things by the public that the commission added was that we send a letter from me to the jail asking them about their plans once the virus is detected there.” Some members of the public mentioned releasing prisoners, but that doesn’t appear to have been added to the motion that was passed.

Sheriff Darnell’s response was concise: “In the interest of expediency, please know that neither of these requests are within my authority, as Sheriff.”

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