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D.C. Council Wants City To Stop Releasing Inmates Late at Night

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By Patrick Madden

Lawmakers in District want the city stop to stop releasing inmates late at night. City law states prisoners must be released before 10 pm. But last year, D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles said the law was unconstitutional because the cut-off forced the jail to hold some prisoners overnight.

Since then, Council member Phil Mendelson says the number of inmates released past 10 o clock has increased ten fold.

"That's what this is about. It's to give them free hand to release prisoners at 3,4,5 in the morning, which serves nobody any purpose," says Mendelson.

Mendelson says he's concerned about the welfare of prisoners and the safety of neighborhoods. His bill, which was passed in council Tuesday, discourages the jail from letting prisoners out after 10 p.m.

Council member David Catania voted against bill, warning if inmates are held over to the next morning, the city could open itself up to lawsuits.

Mendelson's bill requires the city make every attempt to release the inmate before 10 p.m. And if not, provide transportation, housing, clothing, and 7 days worth of medication.

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