Each day, news outlets remind us repeatedly of the importance of maintaining safe distances from other human beings. The novel coronavirus is highly contagious and can be easily transmitted from one individual to the next. So, how is one supposed to social distance while residing in a penal institution?
In recent weeks we have written about a surge of new coronavirus cases in Orange County jails and state prisons. The problem of overpopulation in county jails became so severe that the Orange County commissioner approved the release of about seven “high risk” sex offenders.
While the majority of the seven were quickly rearrested for violating the terms of their release, it does not solve the problem of protecting both inmates and correctional officers from the virus.
In a desperate effort to reduce the number of inmates in California county jails, zero dollar bail was approved for nonviolent offenders. The move hasn’t gone particularly smoothly, but it makes sense in a number of ways.
“The inability of the system to guarantee their safety from this virus right now is really troubling and scary,” offered a Los Angeles county criminal defense attorney.
Zero Dollar Bail for Most Misdemeanors and Lower-Level Felonies
In November, Californians will vote on doing away with cash bail for low-level offenders. However, the pandemic has led the California Judicial Council to take the drastic measure of setting zero dollar bail for most misdemeanors, and lower-level felonies, KCRW reports. Those who are arrested for crimes that meet the above classification will be released to await trial.
“We’re hearing about all these horror stories of thousands of inmates that are catching it, and obviously they’re in very close confines, even if they weren’t subject to overcrowding. The jails aren’t designed for social distancing, whether it’s inside cells or in common areas or even just walking through the hallways. It’s a very real concern.”
This observation is not exaggerated; eight coronavirus-related deaths have occurred at Terminal Island in San Pedro. California state prisons have over 600 inmates and staff infected with the coronavirus. In total, the United States has 1,687,687 reported cases of COVID-19 and 100,000 have died from health complications due to the virus.
Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney
During these challenging times our thoughts and prayers are with all the families impacted by COVID-19. Please reach out to the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower if you are facing criminal charges. Attorney Brower has the expertise to help you achieve a successful outcome with your case.