Attorney trying to get inmate released from treatment center due to potential coronavirus exposure

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Posted at 9:42 PM, Apr 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-07 13:36:07-04

WARM SPRINGS - An attorney for an inmate at the WATCh Program, a treatment facility for felony DUI offenders, tried to get his client released due to fear of exposure to the coronavirus.

The petitioner was sentenced to the WATCh Program for a felony driving under the influence charge in Gallatin County. He claims it’s impossible to social distance himself in the facility due to the number of inmates.

"Just the way the facility’s set up, there’s no possible way you can keep 6 feet of distance from fellow inmates, it just doesn’t work,” said Bozeman Attorney Herman Watson.

Court documents also allege more inmates were admitted into the WATCh Program after the governor’s stay at home order was issued.

“Every time they let in five or nine new people, and those people aren't tested for covid, but they’re put into a population of, you know, 100 or more people who have not otherwise been exposed to it, and so there’s just a huge question mark as to whether or not those people are bringing in covid to an incarcerated population,” said Watson.

Watson adds that this is an issue that’s of concern at other correctional facilities.

“We’re not trying to point fingers at people we presume are trying to do their best in a time of crisis, we’re just saying this facility is not designed to handle this kind of crisis,” said Watson.