Today over 30elected prosecutors representing more than17 million people across the country issued a joint statement recommending immediate actions to mitigate community spread of COVID–19 amongst the 2.3 million adults and children held in prisons, local jails, youth correctional facilities, immigration detention centers, and other forms of confinement. Key recommendations include:
- Adopting cite and release policies for any offense that poses no physical threat to the community.●Releasing individuals who are being held because they cannot afford cash bail, unless they pose a risk to public safety.
- Identifying and releasing the elderly, those with medical conditions that make them more vulnerable to infection,and people within six months of completing their sentence or incarcerated on technical violations of probation and parole–unless doing so would pose a serious public safety risk.
- Ensuring humane conditions of confinement –including good medical care and maintaining access to and connections with counsel as well as family and loved ones.
- Dramatically reducing immigration detention and not conducting immigration enforcement operations in and around hospitals or medical clinics.
“Elected prosecutors have an obligation to protect all members of the community including those behind prison walls and living in densely populated detention facilities,” said Miriam Krinsky, executive director of Fair and Just Prosecution, which organized the statement. “Make no mistake, an outbreak of the coronavirus in incarceration and detention settings will spread quickly and impact not simply those behind bars, but our entire community. We must act now to reduce the existing detained populations and incarcerate fewer people moving forward. In doing so, we can not only help to reduce the spread of infection but also bring home people who no longer present a safety risk to their communities.”