MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Amid growing COVID-19 cases, the Mobile County Metro Jail on Tuesday began allowing some non-violent offenders to be released.

Warden Trey Oliver said the jail has seen a significant increase in COVID-19 cases in the last few weeks. ”This past week and increasingly over the weekend we had an outburst of covid infections in the jail and it was spreading really rapidly and so to really reduce the population as quickly as we could and also limit the number of people coming in and out of the jail .” Sheriff Sam Cochran said.

To combat that rise, the jail has implemented their “Hurricane Release Protocol,” which allows inmates facing only city, non-violent charges to sign their own bond or be released on recognizance (RoR).

This HRP has been in place for many years at Mobile Metro and is implemented during certain circumstances when there is a desperate need for room in the jail. But there are exceptions:

  • Must not be related to DV (Domestic Violence).
  • Must not be DUI related.
  • FTA’s (Failure to Appear in Court) will not qualify for RoR.
  • If a defendant commits the same or “any other” crime while out under RoR before their court date, they will not qualify for a second RoR.
  • Any case where the arresting or investigating agency requests a “good bond” or “hold” or if the D.A. requests otherwise, that defendant will not qualify for RoR.

”We’re trying to keep them safe and we’re also trying to keep our employees safe and with this new delta variant we realize covid is spreading more rapidly and easier than it did in the past.”  Sheriff Cochran said.

Defendants released on their own recognizance need only to sign a written promise to appear in court as required. No bail has to be paid, either to the court or to a bail bond seller. But between the day of release and their court date they have to follow correct protocol and the law.

Their hope is this measure will only last a few weeks, once they can control the COVID-19 outbreak.