Coronavirus Dangers for Inmates
As people across the globe face life in the era of Covid-19, let’s not forget that there is a population that is powerless to protect themselves: the millions of people who are incarcerated behind bars across this country. If you or a loved one is in prison or jail, you have good reason to be wary. Shalini Agarwal from the Southern Poverty Law Center expresses trepidation by asking whether or not Americans believe that it’s cruel to expose incarcerated individuals to a virus that has the potential to kill. After all, most sentences are not supposed to be death sentences. If you share her concern, having an experienced attorney promoting your best interests could be your best chance moving forward.
Coronavirus Concerns for the Incarcerated
Inmates are at particular risk should coronavirus make it into prisons and jails due to a number of issues.
- Large numbers of people are jammed into very small spaces;
- Many inmates have preexisting health issues;
- A significant portion of inmates are older;
- Guards and other employees are unable to do their jobs remotely;
- Many institutions have limited amounts of soap and hand sanitizer.
Mitigating the Problem Behind Bars
Some might think solutions are simple, but that is not, in fact, the case. There is reluctance to fill institutions with hand sanitizer because there is a potential for the inmate population to misuse products that are high in alcohol content. Countrywide, attempts are being made to reduce risk of exposure for incarcerated populations. In Arizona, inmates with cold or flu symptoms are being allowed to see medical personnel without a fee. Additionally, they waive fees typically charged for soap. Finally, prisons and jails across the nation are restricting visitation, and locking down prisoners for extended periods in order to minimize contact and reduce the spread of the virus.
Jails and prisons nationwide are rushing to find ways to release inmates early. Senator Kamala Harris requested the Bureau of Prisons to allow low-risk inmates & those who are behind bars because they can’t afford bail be released. Nine different advocacy groups have urged President Trump to commute the sentences of federal inmates who are eligible for compassionate release. Others are fighting on behalf of older inmates. Even Senators are getting in on the discussions, asking for states to consider early release for certain inmates. In Florida, nonviolent and short-term offenders are being released early in Flagler, Hillsborough, Putnam, Volusia, St. Johns, and other counties. Law enforcement officers are working to reduce the number of arrests for minor violations, and when arrests are made, jails are screening individuals for health issues. State Penitentiaries are on lockdown.
What Can be Done?
The crisis is real. For inmates, the issues are complicated due to the unique circumstances of incarceration. If you or a loved one is a vulnerable inmate, you need an insistent, knowledgeable legal advocate fighting for your very life. At the Salazar & Kelly Law Group, P.A., our experienced Kissimmee criminal attorneys will advocate for you! Schedule a confidential consultation in our office today.