To limit the spread of the coronavirus, several Hays County judges signed an order the week of March 23 that will allow lower-risk arrestees and prisoners in the Hays County Jail to be released back into the community, according to a release from the county.

The order, put in place by Judge Bruce Boyer of the 22nd District Court, Judge Jack Robison of the 207th District Court, Judge Gary Steel of the 274th District Court, Judge Bill Henry of the 428th District Court and Judge David Junkin of the 453rd District Court, comes on the heels of the March 18 cancellation of normal district court proceedings in Hays County.

The Hays County Sheriff’s Office has taken measures, according to a district court release, to protect arrestees, law-enforcement personnel, prisoners and their families from the spread of coronavirus.

According to the release, with few exceptions, all arrestees are entitled to be “bonded and released on reasonable bail.” The county said within 24-48 hours of most arrests, bonds are set and can be posted at any time. The Hays County Adult Community Supervision Department is screening the jail roster to identify those who pose relatively lesser degrees of risk to the community for district judges to review and consider for release.

Also, according to the release, the Hays County Criminal District Attorney’s Office is evaluating cases, conferring with defense counsel and seeking to resolve many cases by plea agreements. Once the agreements are formalized, cases are set promptly so district judges can decide whether certain arrestees, whose cases have not been promptly resolved, should be released on alternate and appropriate bond conditions.

The county said any arrestees being released will be screened, and possibly tested, by jail medical or health personnel for flu-like or coronavirus symptoms.