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Coronavirus Highlights Problems with Criminal Justice System

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criminal justice

Defense attorneys and prosecutors are working together to get people out of jail. If this seems strange, that’s because it is. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has exposed the weak point of the criminal justice system – local jails.

Low-Level Offenses

Many people sit in local jails, awaiting trial, simply because they could not afford to pay bail. Many of these individuals have not yet been convicted of a crime; in the criminal justice system, you are innocent until proven guilty. Further, many people in local jail were arrested for low-level offenses, like minor drug crimes, first-time DWIs, and even traffic violations.

While this overflow is unacceptable, to begin with, things have gotten worse with coronavirus. Local jailers are struggling to provide adequate medical care and high-risk inmates have already succumbed to treatable illnesses.

One public defender stated:

COVID-19 is just a magnifying glass for all the problems in the criminal justice system.”

Keeping People Out of Jail

With the life or death stakes of the COVID-19 crisis, lawmakers, law enforcement, and legal professionals are working hard to keep people out of jail cells, which have been described as “Petri dishes” for the virus. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, public defenders and state prosecutors released 75 people from jail in a single day.

Many local officials are freeing people charged with drug offenses or nonviolent crimes and declining to prosecute for similar offenses. They are also releasing people near the end of their sentences, along with sick and elderly inmates.

Unfortunately, many states, cities, and counties are standing by a “tough-on-crime” rhetoric.

As such, the work of criminal defense attorneys could be more important than ever.

Fight for Your Rights With Foley Griffin

If you’ve been charged with a criminal offense, do not hesitate to get legal help.

As public defenders articulate:

Until we get a handle on this public health crisis, any jail sentence right now could be a death sentence.”

At Foley Griffin, we will do everything in our power to keep you from time behind bars. Using the law and our years of experience, we can build you a defense and pursue the most favorable outcome on your behalf.

During this crucial time, you cannot trust just anyone. Call Foley Griffin at (888) 966-8480 to discuss your situation or schedule a free consultation online.

We look forward to protecting your rights.


COVID-19 is a constantly evolving situation that affects the law in many ways. For the most accurate and up-to-date information on the virus, please consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

For information on executive orders and resources in New York State, please click here.