Is Coronavirus Turning Every Arrest Into a Death Sentence?

Those in prison or in PBC jails right now are typically vectors for infectious disease, but in the age of the coronavirus, is this cause for concern? Defense attorneys are the only possible way for those who are currently incarcerated to voice their concerns. Yet folks who are arrested during the virus outbreak are just as likely to find their way into a jail cell as they did before. Is this good public policy or is it a failure of authorities to meet the demands of the pandemic.

Despite the fact that people are still being sent to potentially dangerous jails, defense attorneys have managed to get the courts to consider bond hearings and first appearances essential court services during the coronavirus. This means that individuals will be able to get out of jail but only if they can post bond.

Elsewhere in Florida…

Authorities are limiting the types of arrests that typically lead to jail sentences while the outbreak is still in place. There is considerable fear, perhaps, of being sued by the families of inmates or the inmates themselves if they should be severely injured or die of the coronavirus. And there is still a federal mandate in place to limit the spread of the virus as much as possible. So where do jails and prisons fit into this?

Palm Beach County has seen a drop in arrests during the coronavirus quarantine, but other counties have chosen to issue civil citations for offenses rather than risk putting more people at risk. That being said, this is a very frightening time for everyone and losing control of the situation is a major consideration for law enforcement right now.

Meanwhile, in other areas of the country, judges have ordered the release of particularly vulnerable inmates who may not survive any contact with the virus. A New Jersey judge ordered the release of 1,000 inmates on a temporary basis. In San Francisco, which was one of the first cities to institute a lockdown during the outbreak, the district attorney is working with the public defender’s office to minimize the number of intakes and release those who may be particularly at risk. In Los Angeles, the sheriff’s department is releasing anyone with 30 days or less left on their sentence.

West Palm Beach is Doing Things Differently

As of yet, there have been no similar measures taken here in West Palm Beach. The fact that criminal citations are still being handed out means that attorneys for defendants will have to show up in courtrooms with judges and prosecutors for first appearances and bond negotiations. Jails remain crowded as new charges come in. It may only be a matter of time before the county realizes that it’s made a huge mistake by operating business as usual.

Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney

If you’ve been arrested and charged with a crime during the coronavirus outbreak, it is more important than ever to let a seasoned criminal defense attorney manage your case. Call the West Palm Beach criminal attorneys at the Skier Law Firm, P.A. today to learn more about how we can help.


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