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INDIANAPOLIS — The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana on Monday filed an emergency petition with the Indiana Supreme Court seeking the release of certain incarcerated individuals in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ACLU said Indiana law allows for steps to be taken to release both those awaiting trial and those convicted to safer environments during the novel coronavirus crisis.

The ACLU said people in prisons and jails are highly vulnerable to outbreaks of contagious illnesses. Given the rate of transmission of COVID-19, the spread once the disease enters a jail or prison would be quick and potentially deadly.

Officials with the ACLU noted that prior to the public health emergency, Indiana county jails were already facing an overcrowding crisis with 77 percent of Indiana’s jails overcrowded or at capacity in 2018.

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