Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx speaks as the Black Caucus endorses her on March 12. Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

CHICAGO — The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office will stop prosecuting low-level, non-violent drug offenses during the coronavirus pandemic.

The move will help protect police officers, jail staff, first responders and others by “by reducing the number of individuals who cycle through police stations and jail on minor offenses,” thus lessening the risk of exposure to coronavirus, according to a State’s Attorney’s Office news release.

The office will continue to review other charges on a case-by-case basis as it struggles with reduced court operations and staffing due to the outbreak.

“An outbreak of coronavirus in our police stations or the Cook County Jail would be devastating, not just for those who are arrested or in-custody during this time, but for the officers, staff, and all of Cook County,” said county State’s Attorney Kim Foxx in a news release. “Everyone deserves to be protected, especially during these uncertain times, and we are obligated to ensure all members of our community feel safe, including those behind bars.”

The conditions people are held in while in custody increases the chance of COVID-19 spreading wider.

So far, there have been 422 cases of coronavirus in Illinois. Officials have repeatedly warned people should not be able to congregate as that increases the change of coronavirus spreading.

The State’s Attorney’s Office is alsoworking with the Cook County Sheriff’s Office and the public defender to get people released from Cook County Jail if they are “not a threat to public safety,” according to the office.

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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