ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Gov. Larry Hogan signed an executive order Saturday to expedite the release of hundreds of inmates in Maryland correctional institutions in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The executive order expedites the release of inmates in Maryland correctional institutions who were already eligible to be released within the next four months, and the processing of inmates eligible for home detention.

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Hogan’s executive order, said, in part:

“In order to reduce the threat to health, welfare, and safety caused by rapid transmission of COVID-19 between residents and staff in congregative correctional custody, and enable social distancing and other mitigation efforts, certain inmates must be removed from these facilities. “

The executive order also said that, “It is in public interest to prevent inmates’ exposure to the novel coronavirus by expeditiously moving them to alternative places of confinement, such as in supervised community placement or their homes.”

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On April 16, 2020, there were 136 confirmed cases of the coronavirus within the Maryland correctional system, and one death was reported.

Members of Maryland’s federal Congressional delegation wrote a letter to Gove. Larry Hogan Thursday urging him to take “aggressive actions” to stop the fast spread of COVID-19 through the state’s prison system.

“We are concerned that an outbreak of COVID-19 within Maryland’s correctional system would endanger the health of all—surrounding communities, correctional staff, first responders and inmates,” the lawmakers wrote. “We urge you to strongly consider the recommendations of Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh that you exercise your commutation power by working with the Maryland Parole Commission to identify and accelerate the release of inmates who pose little risk to public safety but whose continued incarceration would increase the risk of an outbreak amongst the state’s prison population. This action will not only protect correctional officers, first responders, and inmates, but also our state at large.”

Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, who pushed for the supervised release of some non-violent inmates at correctional facilities across the state, said released the following statement:

“This is a victory for public health, public safety, and common sense. We applaud the Governor for taking these important steps and are pleased to see him incorporate many of the recommendations we made in a proposal we sent around a month ago. We stand ready to work with his office on implementing his plan, and will continue to develop our own policies. These actions will prevent more deaths among incarcerated people, correctional staff, and Marylanders as a whole.”

There are now more than 12,800 coronavirus cases and nearly 500 deaths in Maryland, according to new data released Sunday morning.

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For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.