Supreme Court delays federal prison inmates' release in Ohio

The U.S. Supreme Court has granted the federal government’s request to delay the release of medically vulnerable inmates at a federal prison in eastern Ohio where hundreds have tested positive for the coronavirus

CINCINNATI -- The U.S. Supreme Court has granted the federal government's request to delay the release of medically vulnerable inmates at a federal prison in eastern Ohio where hundreds have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued the brief order Thursday evening — staying an order from a lower court to speed up the inmates' release — until the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rules in the matter.

The Supreme Court last month denied the government’s request, mainly on procedural grounds. The government appealed again. Sotomayor handles emergency appeals from Ohio.

Her ruling put on hold earlier orders that the Bureau of Prisons speed up the release of more than 800 medically vulnerable inmates at a federal prison in Elkton in eastern Ohio.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness and lead to death.

Inmate health has emerged as a major concern in Ohio and other states during the pandemic, and Elkton has been one of the hardest-hit prisons in the nation.

Hundreds of Elkton inmates and at least seven guards have tested positive for the coronavirus, and nine inmates have died.