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N.W.T. releases 7 prisoners, reduces remand amid COVID-19 concerns

The Northwest Territories government says it has released a small number of prisoners over concerns about the possible spread of COVID-19 in territorial jails.

7 inmates, all with less than 3 months left on sentences, granted temporary absences

The North Slave Correctional Complex in Yellowknife. Justice Minister Caroline Wawzonek says she's working with prosecutors to ensure only those considered a threat to public safety are taken into remand. (Walter Strong/CBC)

The Northwest Territories government says it has released a small number of prisoners over concerns about the possible spread of COVID-19 in territorial jails.

Justice Minister Caroline Wawzonek outlines the move her territory is making in a letter to Edmonton defence lawyer Tom Engel.

She says seven inmates — all with less than three months left on their sentences — have been granted temporary absences.

Wawzonek says she's working with prosecutors to ensure only those considered a threat to public safety are taken into remand.

The government and prosecutors are also reviewing everyone already in remand to see if anybody would be eligible for an interim release and bail package.

COVID-19 in jails has become increasingly pressing across the country, especially after inmates in a Quebec prison were found to have contracted the novel coronavirus.

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