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Man released early from prison due to COVID-19 accused of murder 2 days later

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Image source: Cumberland County Jail

A New Jersey inmate was released from prison early due to the state's concerns about the spread of COVID-19, and two days later he was accused of murdering a teen.

Jerry D. Crawford, 25, was serving time at the South Woods State Prison in Bridgeton, New Jersey, for committing the crime of burglary. On Nov. 4, 2020, Crawford was released from prison on "public health emergency credits" and granted mandatory parole supervision.

One month earlier, Gov. Phil Murphy signed the NJ S2519 legislation into law, which "requires public health emergency credits to be awarded to certain inmates and parolees during public health emergency."

At the time of signing the bill, Murphy noted that the COVID-19 positivity rate among New Jersey's incarcerated population was "at an impressive low of 0.09%."

"Reducing our prison population will undoubtedly further our mission to combat COVID-19," Murphy said in October. "This law further reduces the prison population to allow for even more social distancing."

On Nov. 6, two days after Crawford's release from prison thanks to public health emergency credits, he was accused of the murder of 18-year-old Davion Scarbrough, NJ.com reported.

Crawford was charged for Scarbrough's murder along with Yusuf Waites, who also had been recently released from incarceration. Waites, 23, was released from Garden State Youth Correctional Facility in Crosswicks on Oct. 10 after completing his sentence on a gun charge.

Apartment complex surveillance video caught Crawford and Waites with Scarbrough shortly before the victim's body was found riddled with bullets in a dirt path less than half of a mile from the prison where Crawford was released two days earlier, according to court documents.

Last week, Crawford and Waites were indicted on charges of first-degree murder and first-degree conspiracy to commit murder in the fatal shooting of Scarbrough.

Waites was also indicted along with three other defendants in connection with the Dec. 9, 2020, murder of Jose Castro, 27, during a "drive-by shooting and a daylight gun battle through Bridgeton."

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