Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith speaks about how the prison can handle the coronavirus precautions during the Smith County Commissioners Court meeting on Tuesday in Tyler.

In an effort to protect inmates and detention officers, non-violent offenders have been released from the Smith County Jail.

The Smith County Sheriff’s Office has worked with the district courts and county courts at law to reduce the jail population to block the potential spread of coronavirus, Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith said.

All inmates charged with non-violent misdemeanors and awaiting pre-trial have been released through personal recognizance bonds, Smith said.

This type of bond means the inmate was released from jail or arrest without bail by a judicial official.

Smith said the jail population has been reduced by 95 to 100 within the past couple of weeks, which can be partially attributed to releasing the non-violent offenders. The current jail population is at 842 inmates.

Due to Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order Thursday, the video visitation at the jail was suspended until further notice, Smith said.

Abbott also announced Texans should avoid social gatherings more than 10.

For Smith County, all jail visitation is done through video at the Smith County Low Risk Jail.

Smith said there are 34 video phones.

Due to the order, Smith said continuing with the visitation would not be feasible because of the number of people and cleaning processes.

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I came to the Tyler Morning Telegraph in September 2019. I report on crime, courts, breaking news and various events in Tyler and East Texas.