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State rejects inmate release, Dane Co. Sheriff defends handling of coronavirus cases

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MADISON (WKOW) -- State corrections officials refuse to grant the temporary release of a Dane County jail inmate who's COVID-19 positive as the county's sheriff defends the handling of inmates.

Inmate James Bloodsaw's cousin, Cassandra Greer told 27 News Bloodsaw is positive for the coronavirus and should be released to care outside the jail. Bloodsaw's husband died in April after contracting COVID-19 while in Illinois' Cook County jail.

Despite Greer's advocacy, a state corrections official says Bloodsaw will remain at the jail. "He...has new felony charges for Possession With Intent To Deliver," Corrections Spokesperson Anna Neal says. "The decision was made to keep Mr. Bloodsaw in custody," Neal says, as revocation of his probation is sought.

Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and other city leaders urged Dane County Sheriff David Mahoney to release all COVID-19 positive inmates to outside care. And Sheriff's officials were pressed about jail conditions during a meeting of the County's Public Protection and Judiciary Committee.

"We have heard reports that a nurse told a prisoner who had obvious symptoms to quote, 'Take gatorade and tylenol,' " says Sawyer Johnson of the Party for Socialism and Liberation-Madison.

"They're given two vitals checks a day," says Sheriff's Captain Chris Nygaard. "They're given fluids twice a day.

Sheriff's officials say their care of inmates with symptoms or who are positive for COVID-19 is done in consultation with Public Health Madison and Dane County.

Sheriff's spokesperson Elise Schaffer says there are currently eleven COVID-19 positive inmates in a jail population of more than 400. Last month, officials said 37 inmates had tested positive for the coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic.

Officials say there are no plans to release inmates based on virus status.

"No inmates have exhibited significant symptoms to warrant hospitalization," Schaffer says. "They are actually getting more consistent and closer attention than they would if they were to be released," Schaffer says.

In March, Sheriff's officials worked with state and court officials to lower the jail population from its average weekly count of more than seven hundred inmates before the pandemic to the reduced census now.

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Tony Galli

Reporter, WKOW

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