At a time when many law enforcement officials across the country have released inmates and curtailed arrests to prevent a deadly outbreak of covid-19 in local jails, some are resisting pressure to take similar measures. Police in New Orleans and some other jurisdictions continue to lock people up for minor and nonviolent offenses, according to defense lawyers, union officials and court records.This business-as-usual approach endangers the police, the community and inmates, public health experts say. Two inmates have already tested positive at the Orleans Justice Center jail, as have six medical staff and 11 employees of the sheriff’s office, which runs the jail.“We need to treat this situation as if there is rising floodwater in the jail and there are only hours before people will drown,” said Jason Williams, a member of the New Orleans City Council who has called on police to suspend arrests for nonviolent crimes. “Time is of the essence and right now the clock is running against us.”Mayor LaToya Cantrell issued a stay-at-home mandate on March 20 in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus through social distancing, which is all but impossible in a jail setting. Cantrell did not respond to a request


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