Gov. Kate Brown on Tuesday said she will consider commuting the sentences of 350 to 400 state prisoners within two months of release as well as about a dozen inmates considered “medically vulnerable” to the coronavirus.

The plan is significantly more expansive than Brown’s previous pandemic-related commutations. To date, the governor has commuted the sentences of 57 people due to the virus.

In a letter sent to the director of the Oregon Department of Corrections, Brown said those eligible for commutation also must meet other criteria, such as good conduct for the past 12 months. They cannot be doing time for crimes against other people.

Those who are medically vulnerable must have served at least half of their sentences.

Inmates deemed by the Department of Corrections as an “unacceptable safety, security, or compliance risk to the community” will not be released even if they fall into one of the categories the governor has outlined, Brown wrote in her letter.

She asked the agency to deliver the names of eligible inmates to her office by Sept. 18.

“Given what we now know about the disease and its pervasiveness in our communities, it is appropriate to review for potential release individuals who face significant health challenges should they contract COVID-19,” Brown wrote to Colette Peters, the administrator of the state’s prison system.

Positive cases have been reported at a half-dozen prisons statewide. The Corrections Department on Tuesday reported a total of 634 cases among inmates. Of those, 513 have recovered. So far, three prisoners have died. Another 177 corrections workers have contracted the virus.


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