Criminal Justice in the Age of the Novel Coronavirus

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The Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a highly contagious respiratory illness with a fatality rate in some areas of up to 3%. As of June 2020, there are still no treatments or vaccines available for people with COVID-19. The virus is especially dangerous for older adults, people with underlying health problems, and people with compromised immune systems. COVID-19 has seriously impacted government agencies and functions all over the world.

The governments of various countries have been combating the spread of the virus by imposing strict measures such as lockdown, mandatory mask wearing and social distancing. As many places of business start to reopen, some have closed permanently collapsing under the tremendous financial burden of having no business for more than two months. The essential businesses allowed to open have been instructed to follow strict standard operating procedures from WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Impact Of COVID-19 On the Criminal Justice System

The COVID-19 pandemic introduced new and unique challenges for the criminal justice system. The good news was that as the infection rates increased, the crime rates have noticeably declined in many cities in the United States. Experts suggest that the sudden decrease in crime was due to the mandatory stay-at-home orders from the government to flatten the curve of the virus.

The bad news was that due to the economic hardships caused by the pandemic, other crimes increased during the full lockdown period, such as domestic violence, use of drugs and alcohol, and curfew violations. With the 4th of July just around the corner and the lockdown restrictions being lifted, law enforcement experts are predicting a surge in crimes such as DUIs, theft, vandalism, and violation of social distancing guidelines.

While the number of arrests has been reduced and jury trials suspended in Texas, the people who are arrested are facing higher risks of being exposed to the virus. Many prisons have reported outbreaks of the virus and have forced states to release nonviolent offenders. Some jurisdictions have gone as far as halting arrests for misdemeanors for better control over the jail population.

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A Case for Criminal Justice Reforms

The conditions in most jails are not conducive to stopping the spread of the virus, and those who end up in jail are at a higher risk of contracting the virus. This has led to many advocates rallying for criminal justice reforms.

Their demands include:

  1. stopping new prosecutions for misdemeanor and first-time offenses, including DUIs, drug charges, sex work, auto theft, and other low-level, nonviolent offenses,
  2. expediting the bail process,
  3. decreasing the number of incarcerated people,
  4. and improving the conditions of prisons to stop the potential spread of the virus among inmates.

These reforms can’t come fast enough and spell out a new and better future for the criminal justice system in the United States.

Hire an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you’ve been arrested on criminal charges during the COVID-19 pandemic, call an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you through the bail process, prepare a solid defense and keep you out of jail so that you avoid risking exposure to the coronavirus inside prisons.

The Law Office of J.L. Carpenter, under the leadership of former Harris County prosecutor, Attorney Jennifer, “J.L.,” Carpenter, is a passionate criminal defense attorney. J.L. can help you fight any charges against you amid the coronavirus outbreak and make sure your rights are defended.

Contact Houston criminal defense lawyer J.L. Carpenter today by scheduling a consultation as soon as possible to start fighting your charges now.