As the world continues to focus on the global pandemic of COVID19, many of us feel uncertain about what the next few days and weeks might look like. There is a general sense that "life as we know it" will not return to normal for a significant period of time. There are many groups deserving of our particular attention during this time, including the immunocompromised and those living in group settings, including individuals who are currently incarcerated. All across the United States, different tactics are being taken to safeguard the health and safety of our loved ones behind bars.
Inmates at a Santa Clara County, California jail have been placed under a quarantine as news broke that a defense attorney tested positive for COVID19. According to the official announcement the COVID-19 exposure was from “someone who came into the jail to interview inmates." However, several sources familiar with the incident confirmed to local news outlets that the infected person is an attorney with the county Public Defender's Office. The quarantine is simply precautionary at this time; none of the inmates is currently experiencing any symptoms consistent with the virus. Jail officials also announced that new policies have been enacted in order to decrease close contact between all individuals at county jail facilities.
In Ohio, one jail system is looking to release hundreds of individuals in order to mitigate the risk of exposure. A jail system outside of Cleveland is requesting permission to release as many as 300 nonviolent or low-risk offenders. The court system is seeking to expedite cases in order to avoid a potential outbreak among those housed in the approximately 1,900-person jail. The Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas held extra hearings Saturday, trying to reduce the jail population in part by settling cases with guilty pleas and either releasing or sending individuals to prison or house arrest.
There are other calls for similar measures to be implemented elsewhere. Minnesota Chief Public Defender Bill Ward emailed staffers, urging them to demand that their clients, many of whom have not yet been convicted of any crimes, be released from places such as local and county jails. He characterized these places as "petri dishes of infection" and expressed concern about the rate of virus spread inside.
Defense Attorney Steve Karimi
As our nation heads into what are unprecedented and uncertain times, effects are being felt across the country, and the criminal justice system is no exception. With the uncertainty that this pandemic is bringing to the economic sector, the impacts of a criminal conviction on employment prospects can seem even more critical. However, an experienced criminal defense attorney can be a game-changer. Steve Karimi is a former King County prosecutor with years of experience fighting for the best possible outcome. Call 206-621-8777 or fill out an online contact form today to get started.