Families worry for loved ones in jail during COVID-19

Posted at 6:26 PM, Apr 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-28 20:47:14-04

PONTIAC, Mich. (WXYZ) — COVID-19 is hitting jails in metro-Detroit hard.

Taking a look at the numbers:

So far Oakland County Jail has had 41 inmates that have tested positive. Macomb County Jail has five inmates that have tested positive. Wayne County has had 26 inmates test positive.

Right now families of people locked in jail are worried for their loved ones.

“I am definitely worried about him because he does have underlying COPD and emphysema,” said April Webb of her husband.

James Webb has been in jail since February 11 she says, serving a 100 day sentence for Driving with a Suspended License Second Offense. His crime happened five years ago, but he never responded to the bench warrant.

Last week he called her from jail and told her he had been diagnosed with COVID-19, something he had told her before he feared he had.

“It was a hard pill to swallow. My father-in-law lives with us and having to tell him… That is his only living son. All his other children have passed. ” said April.

April says her husband has a criminal record, but his convictions are not violent. She feels her husband should be released from jail to protect workers at the jail and to ensure he gets proper medical care.

“He is a man with problems, but he is a man who has tried to turn his life around and he is a man who is sick right now,” said Bill Amadeo, an attorney who took on the case pro bono.

Attorney Bill Amadeo’s first motion was turned down. The judge explained that Webb had no evidence he had COVID-19.

When test results came back proving it last week, Amadeo filed another motion. Then as WXYZ worked to gather information on this story, news broke.

“I just got notice from the court. They are going to release Jimmy tomorrow by 5 o’clock,” said Amadeo as WXYZ recorded it.

The judge said because of his criminal history and an assault investigation in Dearborn Heights action needs to be taken to ensure James Webb is not a danger to society. He will still have to serve his sentence, but because of the unique circumstances caused by COVID-19 -will do so differently. When he is released he will be put on a tether and serve his time under house arrest.

His family says they are grateful to have the ability to ensure he gets medical care he may need.