“I want to assure you that we have not opened the door and just let people go.” That is the message Blount County Sheriff Mark Moon made on social media Friday as a way to dispel false rumors of the jail being emptied because of the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Rumors were probably prompted by a news report earlier in the week that the presiding judge in another judicial circuit issued an order to the sheriffs in the affected counties to release inmates who had bonds of less than $5,000, Moon said later. Blount County is in a different judicial circuit and is not affected.
No blanket order has been issued by the county’s presiding judge, Steven King. Moon explained that inmate releases are proceeding here as they have always been done, either through a judge’s order on a specific inmate or through the normal bond process of securing bail through a bonding company or property. Moon said, “We are not just opening the gates and letting criminals run out of the doors.”
Moon gave assurances that his office is still performing all the duties of the sheriff’s office and pointed out that with the school closings, the department now has more deputies on patrol than normal because the nine school resource officers have been reassigned to patrol. “We are still out there actively patrolling 24 hours a day. We’re still doing our job.”