Facing Prison? How COVID-19 Has Impacted Legal Infrastructures
COVID-19 has affected every aspect of our lives in some way. Employees and businesses have found a way to transition into working from home. Administrators, teachers, and students have converted into remote learning. Businesses have added delivery, curbside pickup, and online ordering to their business plans. Prisons and the criminal justice system also have changed the way they operate to keep everyone as safe as possible through COVID-19.
How COVID-19 has Affected the Prison Population
States across the country were fast to make changes and to reduce the person-to-person contact within the criminal justice system this year. Prisons halted prison to prison transfers and jail to prison transfers. Many states released prisoners that were held on parole violations, prisoners that were serving a shorter sentence, and prisoners with underlying health issues to reduce the prison population. Law enforcement officers were encouraged to give citations and summons when possible instead of booking the suspect into jail. Some states even provided hotel rooms for newly released inmates so they did not contribute to the already overcrowded homeless shelters. One state even enacted a $0 bond to reduce the population that was in jail over unpaid bonds.
Every state and county across the country has its own set of challenges navigating the COVID-19 landscape. Jails, prisons, and law enforcement officers have worked effortlessly to keep everyone safe while at the same time trying to uphold the laws in the best way possible. It has changed the way that the criminal justice system reacts to non-violent offenses.
Sentencing during COVID-19
Are you facing prison? COVID-19 has definitely changed what institutes a prison sentence and what will qualify for a different sentence. Most of the states have changed or amended their policy on how prison sentences will be instituted. Some states have simply reduced the number of individuals they are prosecuting. Other states are only prosecuting violent crimes and not prosecuting misdemeanors or lower-level offenses. A lot of states are utilizing the “Citation and Release” method, instead of booking the individual into jail, to lower the inmate volume. Several states have an executive order stating that the state prisons will not be accepting any new prisoners, which is leading to county jails having to change their policy so those jails do not get overcrowded.
COVID-19 has definitely changed the landscape in all areas of our lives and the criminal justice system is not immune to the changes. Changes have been made all of 2020 and will continue to be made as COVID-19 continues to evolve. States are still figuring how best to how prisoners and avoid overcrowding in these unprecedented times. Normal situations might require a prison sentence, but that might not be the case at this point in time.
Do you have questions about your case or are you wondering what your options are?
Call the Law Office of Jennifer A. Curry today to discuss your options.