Attorney wants Alabama prisoners released early because of coronavirus

Attorney David Harrison speaks at a press conference on the arrest of Coley McCraney, March 20, 2019.
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Dothan, AL (WTVY)-- An Ozark attorney wants about about 40 state inmates he represents released from prison before completing their sentenced due to the coronavirus pandemic. David Harrison in the process of filing legal documents seeking to obtain those releases.

He claims keeping those prisoners locked up is inhumane treatment because it puts them at high risk of contracting the potentially deadly disease.

“It is impossible for 22,000 inmates in these facilities to maintain six foot (social)distancing called for in federal and state guidelines,” Harrison told WTVY.

He also points to a 263-page document that indicates the designs of Alabama prisons that are overcrowded and understaffed make it impossible to follow safety protocols. AL.com first reported that document.

“If we don't make adjustments, we are going to have some number of our inmates going into hospitals for treatment and those hospitals are already stretched to their limits,” Harrison said. He would support the use of ankle monitors, if necessary.

While the Alabama Department of Corrections could release many of those non-violent offenders—some of them convicted of drug charges--sentencing judges must intervene in a few other cases.

Harrison is best known for his defense of Coley McCraney, who awaits trial on murder charges alleging he shot two Dothan teens in 1999.