Attorney General Tim Fox said late Tuesday that the Montana Supreme Court has voted unanimously against a petition by the American Civil Liberties Union for Disability Rights Montana that would have forced the release of many inmates in the state prison and other jails.

“Today we got word from the Montana Supreme Court that they denied the petition for extraordinary writ that was filed by Disability Rights Montana which was represented by the ACLU,” said Fox. “They were attempting to release a lot of inmates from our jails and our prisons.”

Fox said the reasoning used by DRM was flawed in its presentation to the court.

“They alleged some pretty wild things that the Supreme Court debunked in rather chastising language for the sources of their information and allegations that just weren’t true,” he said. “I applaud all the district court judges who worked very hard to get in affidavits telling the court what was going on in their jurisdictions. I also applaud the governor and the Department of Corrections for all of the work that they’re doing to keep people health and safe, even those who might be incarcerated.”

From the Supreme Court Decision:

‘DRM has failed to establish that corrections and jail officials have violated a clear legal duty to reduce prisoner populations as requested. DRM also fails to establish that the courts of Montana are proceeding under a mistake of law or causing a gross injustice. Further, DRM has either completely ignored or misrepresented the facts that clearly demonstrate the Executive and Judicial Branches have implemented appropriate and detailed measures for correctional facilities and jails to address the current state of emergency surrounding the critical health and safety issues that must be addressed in light of the emergence of the COVID-19 virus in this State.’

Fox borrowed a phrase from his gubernatorial campaign to describe the united response.

“We’re all working together,” he said. “We’re Montana united and it was a unanimous decision by the Montana Supreme Court denying the petition, so even the Supreme Court is Montana united.”

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