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· Along with a number of problem caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, The Marshall Project explains that it has also led to longer jail time for individuals awaiting suspended grand juries.
· What is being done to protect inmates from this pandemic? How long are grand juries delayed?
· Here more on the effects and aftermath of COVID-19 in prisons.
urtis Holly broke into tears as the judge in Manhattan criminal court announced that he had to put up bail or sit in jail. Charged with choking his wife during a fight the night before, Holly declared through his lawyer that he was too poor to afford bail and too sick to go into the Rikers Island jail complex, where a COVID-19 outbreak is underway.
Holly says he has an immune disorder, asthma and an infected gunshot wound to his leg. The prosecutor calmly detailed Holly’s several felony convictions, and said that while the victim didn’t want to press charges, the photographs of her injuries justified bail of $25,000. The judge reduced it to $5,000, but eight days after his court appearance Holly remained in jail.
With courts across the country largely closed by the coronavirus, defendants recently charged with felonies can expect long waits for justice. Whether they spend that time in a possibly virus-infested jail cell or at home depends on where they get arrested.
California, striving to reduce the risk of infection in crowded jails, has ordered judges to free those accused of most lower-level felonies on $0 bail.
New York, in contrast, has suspended legal protections that limit jail time to six days for those who have not been indicted by a grand jury.
New York's jail population is at a 70-year low, thanks to a dramatic decline in arrests during the COVID-19 lockdown and some humanitarian releases of vulnerable inmates. But defense lawyers say those who remain behind bars in the city and many other jurisdictions have essentially lost their right to a speedy resolution.
Read the full article about COVID-19 and jail by Simone Weichselbaum at The Marshall Project.