Source: Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

Murder Allegedly Committed by Inmate Released Early Because of 2019 Novel Coronavirus

Second-degree murder was allegedly committed by an inmate on the day after he was released from the Hillsborough County Jail in Florida — as part of an effort to slow the spread of 2019 Novel Coronavirus — and he has now returned to jail after being arrested for the incident.

Murder Allegedly Committed by Inmate Released Early Because of 2019 Novel Coronavirus

“The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office has arrested Joseph Edward Williams, 26, for a homicide that occurred on the 8000 block of Ash Avenue in Tampa on March 20”, according to this official news release from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. “Williams is facing a second-degree murder charge along with resisting an officer with violence, felon in possession of a firearm, possession of heroin and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was previously convicted of two felony offenses including burglary of an unoccupied conveyance in 2012 and felon in possession of a firearm in 2018, in addition to five misdemeanor convictions. Throughout the course of his criminal history, Williams has been arrested for 35 charges in total.”

An increasing number of jurisdictions throughout the United States are issuing orders to release inmates of jails, detention facilities, and prisons early in an effort to lower the risk of the spread of 2019 Novel Coronavirus within those facilities — as well as to protect the inmates, deputies, and members of the civilian staff who work within those facilities.

After being arrested on Friday, March 13, 2020 for possession of heroin and drug paraphernalia, Williams was one of 164 inmates who were released from custody until trial on Thursday, March 19, 2020 following the issuance of Administrative Order 2020-018 in Hillsborough County, in which the city of Tampa is located.

An official statement was issued by Chad Chronister, who is the current sheriff of Hillsborough County:

“There is no question Joseph Williams took advantage of this health emergency to commit crimes while he was out of jail awaiting resolution of a low-level, non-violent offense. As a result, I call on the State Attorney to prosecute this defendant to the fullest extent of the law. Every murder, every violent crime, especially those involving a gun, is a sickening example of the worst in our community, especially at a time when our community is working relentlessly to fight against the spread of this deadly COVID-19.

“Judges, prosecutors, and Sheriffs around the country are facing difficult decisions during this health crisis with respect to balancing public health and public safety. Sheriffs in Florida and throughout our country have released non-violent, low-level offenders to protect our deputies and the jail population from an outbreak.

“Our commitment as an agency is to keep this community safe and enforce the law.”


That Williams was released early due to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus is appalling at best — especially with his extensive criminal record.

Is this what we have come to: releasing questionably dangerous inmates out into the public early as an attempt to reduce the number of deaths caused by the 2019 Novel Coronavirus? How do we know that they are not carrying the 2019 Novel Coronavirus? Have then been fully tested for it before being released from incarceration?

This is yet another example of the inanely insane decisions resulting from the vast overreaction to this pandemic, whose costs — in terms of tens of thousands of lives, the decimation of entire industries such as travel, and the halt of the economy in general as three of many examples — are steeply mounting…

…and I am willing to bet that this is not the only murder which has occurred in the United States due to the early release of incarcerated inmates of jails and prisons — but instead of relying on the media, the information in this article comes from the actual source.

Source: Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

  1. This is legitimately the worst blog on Boarding Area and it’s not even close. Like seriously, write about travel. Not inmates and what’s wrong with pictures. Nobody wants to read this trash.

  2. Cause of Death will without doubt, be counted as Covid-19. Death stats Matter.
    Every death will be Covid-19; until the election.

  3. This virus is a god send opportunity for us to get rid of inmates, homeless, old people, people with compromised health.

    All of them could die and you can blame destiny, god or universe. This virus was our chance to clean up our society and make our more efficient. We are losing out on this god sent opportunity.

    Do we live in sparta or not?

  4. I totally agree anybody remotely dangerous should not be allowed out.

    You may lose me a little on the general overreaction part of the comment. You don’t specifically mention the flu, but that an argument many give to support over reaction arguments. 34,000 people died from the flu in the US 2018-19 season in a 21 week period. COVID-19 is closing in on that number in a much shorter period despite all the steps being taken.

    I can’t prove a negative, but I can only logically guess that many more would be dead if it was business as usual. Anywhere people gathered against the recommendations (church, family reunions, etc.) you see how badly this virus can spread.

    If you had the flu last season your odds of dying was one in a thousand. So far COVID-19 seems to be running 4% death rate. Granted there are undetected cases, but there are also non-identified deaths , and I fear more deaths to come.

    It a hard to come up with a formula to balance lost lives vs the health of the travel industry (and general economy). I’m glad I don’t have to do it. I am 65 and retired a little over a year ago. I now want many years to enjoy it (travel, etc.), but I’m in no hurry to risk anything by flying or whatever soon.

  5. “ The Brennan Center for Justice, which is heavily financed by George Soros, has submitted a letter to the governors of all fifty states urging them to use executive action to “release as many people as possible from incarceration” due to coronavirus fears “provided they do not pose serious public safety threats.”

    “ The Brennan Center for Justice, located at NYU School of Law, is heavily financed by Soros’s Open Society Foundations and is the recipient of numerous Open Society grants.”
    Source- Breitbart

  6. You should educate yourself on the law before posting things like this. He was not released “early,” but was released on his own recognizance.

    Holding people pre-trial because they cannot afford bail is a betrayal of our constitutional values and system. It encourages people not to exercise their constitutional right to a jury trial and often forces people to plead to things they did not do.

    I know don’t have a lot of travel to post on right now, but maybe stick to what you know.

    1. If he did the murder he is accused of I doubt if this distinction matters to those the victim left behind. You can be poor AND too dangerous to release.

      1. Yes, but he was originally held on a drug charge. This means he could have gotten out if he had the money, so he was being held because he is poor and not because he is dangerous.

        You cannot hold people forever on low level charges because they may commit some unrelated crime in the future.

    2. “ He was previously convicted of two felony offenses including burglary of an unoccupied conveyance in 2012 and felon in possession of a firearm in 2018, in addition to five misdemeanor convictions. Throughout the course of his criminal history, Williams has been arrested for 35 charges in total”

      “Joseph Edward Williams, 26, was arrested Monday on a second-degree murder charge in connection with a fatal shooting March 20, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. He’s also charged with resisting an officer, being a felon in possession of a firearm and possession of heroin, records show.”

      Bail can’t be high enough to keep him out of the public. I say castration.

      1. I’m not going to convince any of you on it because this is a nuanced issue that does not lend itself to insightful discussion on the comment section of a travel blog, but a few things here. He only has 7 convictions despite being arrested 35 times, that may indicate some targeting.

        Further, of course we should be releasing more people during a global pandemic. Unlike prisons, there is constant movement in and out of jails on a daily basis. A jail that cannot appropriately quarantine/socially distance can quickly become an epicenter that makes the whole community sick. When running at full capacity, jails cannot appropriately distance people.

        Finally, a thought experiment: when is it appropriate to hold people in custody for crimes they may commit in the future (precrime)? What likelihood must there be that they will commit a crime? For everyone who commits a horrible act while out of custody pre-trial, there are many many more waiting it out behind bars.

        My last point is that he always had the possibility of getting out pre-trial on his drug charge, he just would have to pay up. It is unfair because being rich or poor does not make you inherently safe or dangerous.

        I have researched bail policies extensively and am happy to send some reading if anyone is interested. I understand how the instinct to ‘lock em all up’ spreads but it is truly anathema to our constitution and judicial system.

        1. I stopped reading when you said you weren’t going to convince us and got on your high horse, Not sure why you didn’t stop at that point.

        2. You lose your audience when you start with “I’m not going to convince any of you on it because this is a nuanced issue that does not lend itself to insightful discussion”.

          And I was waiting for an “old” reference, You didn’t let me down.

          See ya.

    3. Whether or not you personally agree with the way our court system handles those arrested and unable to make bail, in this case, it appears that the arrested man was treated outside of normal operating procedure solely in order to potentially protect “him” from Covid-19 which puts the general public at risk for (1) him committing another crime while out, (2) contracting Covid-19 from him due to the time he did spend in jail, (3) him not returning to court at the approved time.

  7. He could have gotten out on bail anyway, so the whole premise of the article is misleading and wrong.
    Now that he killed someone (allegedly), the situation is obviously different — and nobody would even think of releasing him again now.

    You are confusing two things: whether a violent offender was released pre-trial and then committed a murder (which shouldn’t happen – and didn’t happen); or whether a non-violent suspect was released and turned out to be violent and a murderer (which is not something that could have been foreseen, since he did not have a violent record — he had a criminal record, but it did not involve killing people).

    Given that the overwhelming majority of non-violent offenders never hurt a fly (and that plenty of people with no criminal records suddenly murder somebody), it would be absurd to keep all suspects in jail pre-trial, just in case they might suddenly turn out to be murderers out of nowhere.
    What we have is a system that keeps poor suspects in jail because they can’t afford bail – but lets rich suspects, including some pretty bad scumbags go free until their trial just because they can post bail. We all need to realize that jail is for after the trial. Holding somebody before their trial is only warranted if they are 1 – a flight risk; or 2 – a danger to society.
    This man was, but we didn’t know it before. Now we do.
    I hope you can understand this — it is not about having a bleeding heart or whatever, it is about constitutional protections guaranteeing the fairness of the judicial process. One day, you or I may need the system to be fair and just.

  8. @Luke Davis or @gus… I would appreciate your thoughts:
    Those who commit a crime and have no skin in the game are more unlikely return for their trial. Putting up bail money or a property bond or some collateral in exchange for the right to leave on one own’s recognizance serves a purpose. Therefore, it is common practice to keep those who cannot or will not post bail in jail until they are tried. Yes…this process absolutely harms the poor far more than the wealthy. But what instead? There has to be something forcing those convicted of crimes to appear for their court dates. What would an alternative solution be?

    1. @NB_ga there are many alternatives. In general, if you fail to appear you will get a warrant and be arrested. Believe it or not, most people don’t want to spend their lives on the run from a low level offense. There are a number of alternatives including more robust pre trial services, including ankle monitoring or check in calls/meetings. In Washington DC, the failure to appear rate went down substantially just by having an automatic text or reminder call go out the day before court. It is also important to remember that these people have not been found guilty of anything, so it doesn’t make sense for them to spend 6 months or so in custody to prove their innocence (if they are poor). Also, it is really expensive to hold people in custody pre trial. It I much more expensive than operating a competent pre-trial services office.

  9. Wow, I knew this would draw some hate but you are spot on. Oh, and if Luke David is right why don’t we release him again. His circumstances haven’t changed in regards to affording his bail. I’m sure it’s even higher now.

    1. Hey Dan,

      His circumstances have changed because he was charged with murder instead of a low level drug charge so he will most likely stay in custody on a no bond hold.

  10. GOTHAM—Arkham Asylum has freed all its inmates to prevent the spread of coronavirus, sources within the Gotham Police Department confirmed earlier this week.

    The prisoners were at risk for contracting COVID-19 and so were let go to take some of the strain off the Gotham prison system. After freeing them, interestingly, there was a rise in crime, a side effect the Gotham P.D. claimed they didn’t see coming.

    “Yeah, in hindsight, maybe this wasn’t the greatest idea,” said Commissioner Jim Gordon as a giant vine burst out of the ground and began wreaking havoc downtown and Bane punched walls just for fun. “Letting criminals out can sometimes cause a rise in crime, and we didn’t exactly see that coming.”

    “HahahahahahahaHAHAHA!!!” cackled the Joker as he was let out. “Now it’s time to kill the Batman!” Medical officials believe killing the Batman could actually help keep further coronavirus outbreaks from occurring and so will turn a blind eye to the Joker’s evil plan this time.


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