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Britain temporarily releasing 4,000 inmates to ease crowding during pandemic

A NHS (National Health Service) worker is tested for Covid-19 at a drive-through testing center in a car park at Chessington World of Adventures, Greater London, on April 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

LONDON (AP) -- Britain is temporarily releasing about 4,000 inmates to ease crowding and try to slow the spread of the new coronavirus in prisons.

    The Ministry of Justice says "low-risk" offenders will be freed with electronic tags. People guilty of violent or sexual offenses or terrorism will not be eligible for release.

    Pregnant prisoners or those with infants have also been approved for release.

    Britain has one of the largest prison populations in western Europe with more than 80,000 people behind bars. Many prisons hold far more inmates than they were built for.

    According to official figures, 88 inmates and 15 prison staff have tested positive for COVID-19. Three prisoners are reported to have died.

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