Category Archives: Prison

Should Prison Inmates Get Minimum Wage for Prison Jobs?

Sell Block: The empty promises of prison labor

Excellent article by Journalist Drew Mikkelsen reports that WA State Representative Tarra Simmons wants to start paying inmates minimum wage for prison jobs.

According to the Department of Corrections (DOC), 1,600 offenders currently work in-custody jobs. They pay between 65 cents to $2.70 per hour. Inmates are paid to work in prison kitchens, they build office furniture and assemble eyeglasses.

DOC spokesperson Chris Wright said those are “one of the top hourly rates in the country.”

“This is an evolution of slavery,” said state Representative Tarra Simmons, D-Bremerton. Simmons is believed to be the first person convicted of a felony to get elected to serve in Olympia. She served a 30-month prison sentence for drug and theft charges. She worked in the kitchen, laundry room, and as a custodian. “When I was incarcerated I was paid 42 cents an hour,” said Simmons. Her proposal would place half of an inmate’s earnings into an account that could not be accessed until the inmate’s release.

“If people can leave with enough money to have transportation, for housing, clothing, food and potentially some job training, hopefully they will have a better chance at not coming back,” ~Tarra Simmons, D-Bremerton

Simmons said the issue will come up for debate in the upcoming legislative session, which starts in January.

Mrs. Simmons is quite remarkable. She’s a politician, convicted felon, lawyer, and civil rights activist for criminal justice reform. In 2011 Simmons was sentenced to 30 months in prison for theft and drug crimes. In 2017, she graduated from Seattle University School of Law with honors. After law school, she was not allowed to sit for the Washington State bar exam due to her status as a former convicted felon.

Consequently, she challenged the Washington State Bar Association rules in the Washington State Supreme Court and won with the court unanimously ruling in her favor. She was later sworn in as an attorney in the State of Washington on June 16, 2018. Simmons is the executive director for a nonprofit focused on assisting those that are formerly incarcerated, known as the Civil Survival Project

Republican Sen. Phil Fortunato, R-Auburn, said the inmates are enough of a tax burden on the state:

“To me, it doesn’t make much sense . . . There’s no end to what we can do with other people’s money.” ~Republican Sen. Phil Fortunato, R-Auburn

Mt opinion? Prison is big business. The state of Washington saves millions by paying inmates pennies per hour for work done behind bars.Billions of dollars in revenue are generated by both the private prison industry and the labor of individuals who are incarcerated. From desks to textiles, a complex web of manufacturing is produced each day in New York Prisons—in fact, every New York license plate is created by an individual with justice involvement. Though their work results in billions of dollars, individuals with justice involvement receive literal pennies in return.

Of course, the best route is to avoid prison altogether. Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Federal Prisoners Punished for Using Their Prescribed Medications

Delaware inmate's overdose shows how easy it is to get drugs into prison

Intriguing article from journalist Beth Schwartzapfel discusses federal prisons punish prisoners for using addiction medication. The article was published in partnership with The Marshall Project, who spoke to more than 20 people struggling with addictions in federal prison. They described the dire consequences of being unable to safely access a treatment that Congress has instructed prisons to provide.

Last year, the Bureau of Prisons disciplined more than 500 people for using Suboxone without a prescription. When prescribed, Suboxone typically comes as a strip of film that patients dissolve under the tongue. On the illegal market behind bars, a strip is cut into 16 or 32 pieces, each of which sells for $20.

Some prisoners have overdosed. Many have gotten involved in dangerous and illicit money-making schemes to pay for Suboxone. The medication costs about $20 for a small fraction of a daily dose on the illegal market, several prisoners said. Many have lost phone or visiting privileges or been sent to solitary confinement because they were caught taking the medication.

“Believe me, 100% I recognize the irony there,” said a bureau administrator familiar with the agency’s addiction treatment programs, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the press. “It’s maddening.”

THE “FIRST STEP” ACT

Congress passed the First Step Act four years ago, requiring, among other things, that the Bureau of Prisons offer more prisoners addiction medications, the most common of which is Suboxone. The medications can quiet opioid cravings and reduce the risk of relapse and overdose.

Yet the federal prisons are treating only a fraction — less than 10% — of the roughly 15,000 prisoners who need it, according to the bureau’s estimates.

At the end of October, 21 prisons were not offering any prisoners addiction medication, and another 59 were treating 10 or fewer people — in many cases, just one person, according to bureau data obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. The rest of the 121 facilities nationwide were each treating a few dozen people at most.

THE CHALLENGES OF PRESCRIBING MEDICATIONS TO PRISONERS

According to the article, the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is treating increasingly more people since it launched its opioid medication program. In 2019, 41 people were receiving addiction medications. As of October, that had risen to 1,035 people; more than 80% of them are receiving Suboxone. This is good progress.

However, the BOP has fought in court to prevent people entering the system from staying on the addiction medications they were prescribed by doctors in the community. That began to change in 2018, when the First Step Act was passed and prisons and jails across the country began losing lawsuits from prisoners who argued it was cruel and unusual to deny them the addiction medicine they’d been taking before they were incarcerated.

Presently, prisoners need to overcome several administrative hurdles before they can begin medication. They must also obtain clearance from psychological services, then health services, before seeing a prescriber. This process naturally involves extended wait times. Some say the issues stem from a culture at the BOP that is skeptical of addiction medication and pits staff against prisoners.

Federal law treats use of any narcotics without a prescription in federal prison — including Suboxone — as a “greatest severity level prohibited act.” This infraction allows officials to punish prisoners by delaying their release date, confiscating their property. It also allows officials to withdraw visiting or phone privileges and hold prisoners for up to six months in solitary confinement. Experts say even a few days in solitary can exacerbate the mental illness that is often the cause of, or closely linked to, drug addiction.

According to the article, the lack of Suboxone treatment comes amid a rise in drug-related deaths behind bars. A variety of substances are routinely smuggled into prisons and jails through mail, drone drops, visitors or corrections officers and other staff. In the last two decades, federal data shows that fatal overdoses increased by more than 600% inside prisons and more than 200% inside jails.

Forty-seven incarcerated people died of overdoses in federal prison from 2019 through 2021, according to internal bureau data released via a public records request. The data does not specify how many of these overdose deaths were caused by opioids and could have been prevented by medications like Suboxone. However, other BOP data offers some clue: During the same period, correctional staff administered Narcan — a drug that reverses opioid overdoses — almost 600 times in federal prisons.

Prison is an awful experience. Serving a prison sentence while needing a prescription medication is even more challenging. Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Locked Out 2022: Estimates of People Denied Voting Rights

The state of ex-felons' voting rights, explained - Vox

An insightful report from The Sentencing Project describes how an estimated 4.6 million Americans are barred from voting due to a felony conviction.

Laws in 48 states ban people with felony convictions from voting. In 2022, an estimated 4.6 million Americans, representing 2 percent of the voting-age population, will be ineligible to vote due to these laws or policies, many of which date back to the post-Reconstruction era. In this election year, as the United States confronts questions about the stability of its democracy and the fairness of its elections, particularly within marginalized communities, the impact of voting bans on people with felony convictions should be front and center in the debate.

This 2022 report updates and expands upon 20 years of work chronicling the scope and distribution of felony disenfranchisement in the United States (see Uggen, Larson, Shannon, and Pulido-Nava 2020; Uggen, Larson, and Shannon 2016; Uggen, Shannon, and Manza 2012; Manza and Uggen 2006; Uggen and Manza 2002). As in 2020, we present national and state estimates of the number and percentage of people disenfranchised due to felony convictions, as well as the number and percentage of the Black and Latinx populations impacted. Although these and other estimates must be interpreted with caution, the numbers presented here represent our best assessment of the state of felony disenfranchisement as of the November 2022 election.

AMONG THE REPORT’S KEY FINDINGS:

  • An estimated 4.6 million people are disenfranchised due to a felony conviction, a figure that has declined by 24 percent since 2016, as more states enacted policies to curtail this practice and state prison populations declined modestly. Previous research finds there were an estimated 1.2 million people disenfranchised in 1976, 3.3 million in 1996, 4.7 million in 2000, 5.4 million in 2004, 5.9 million in 2010, 6.1 million in 2016, and 5.2 million in 2020.
  • One out of 50 adult citizens – 2 percent of the total U.S. voting eligible population – is disenfranchised due to a current or previous felony conviction.
  • Three out of four people disenfranchised are living in their communities, having fully completed their sentences or remaining supervised while on probation or parole.
  • In three states – Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee – more than 8 percent of the adult population, one of every 13 adults, is disenfranchised.
  • Florida remains the nation’s disenfranchisement leader in absolute numbers, with over 1.1 million people currently banned from voting, often because they cannot afford to pay court-ordered monetary sanctions. An estimated 934,500 Floridians who have completed their sentences remain disenfranchised, despite a 2018 ballot referendum that promised to restore their voting rights.
  • One in 19 African Americans of voting age is disenfranchised, a rate 3.5 times that of non-African Americans. Among the adult African American population, 5.3 percent is disenfranchised compared to 1.5 percent of the adult non-African American population.
  • More than one in 10 African American adults is disenfranchised in eight states – Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Virginia.
  • Although data on ethnicity in correctional populations are unevenly reported and undercounted in some states, a conservative estimate is that at least 506,000 Latinx Americans or 1.7 percent of the voting eligible population are disenfranchised.
  • Approximately 1 million women are disenfranchised, comprising over one-fifth of the total disenfranchised population.

My opinion? Many states restore voting rights to individuals automatically after they exit jail or prison. Others continue the bar on voting even while on probation or parole. A few permanently disenfranchise people with a past conviction or require they petition the government to have their voting right restored. Fortunately, In 2021, Governor Inslee signed legislation restoring voting rights to people convicted of felonies automatically after release from prison.

Losing your right to vote is a terrible consequence of a criminal conviction. Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Indigenous Prisoners in Walla Walla Gather for Pow wow

Powwow adds color to local prison - Mitchell Republic | News, weather, sports from Mitchell South Dakota

Journalist Karina Brown reports in Undersore News that Native American prisoners at the State Penitentiary hosted their first powwow in three years. This reunites a 50-year tradition temporarily halted by the Covid-19 Pandemic.

“Today is a big day, to be able to see our families,” said Yakama inmate Tallon Saluskin. “And to get to show love.”

Thirty-seven Indigenous inmates and 75 guests attended the first of 22 powwows scheduled for September and October in Washington state prisons. It was the first time the Washington State Department of Corrections (WDOC) allowed an outdoor powwow in a medium-security prison. There was drumming and dancing, plus a feast of salmon, buffalo stew and fry bread. Late in the afternoon, prisoners presented handmade gifts to nearly every attendee.

The lack of powwows, sweat lodges and other Native American religious ceremonies during the pandemic made a difficult time period even harder. That painful stretch of time without religious ceremonies ended sooner for prisoners who participated in other religions. But Native Americans are incarcerated in the United States at higher rates than any other racial category, after African Americans. Though they make up 1.9% of the population of Washington State, nearly 5% of the people jailed in state prisons in Washington are Native American.

Consequently, Covid restrictions in prison were especially detrimental to Indigenous faith practices.

Bringing Pow wows To Prisons Was Hard-Fought.

Restrictions under the pandemic caused an absence of ceremony comparable only to one other period of time at least 50 years ago.

In 2010, the WDOC sharply curtailed the Indigenous faith practices it allowed. At issue were budget cuts and a dispute over whether to allow children to attend powwows. But the religious rights of Indigenous prisoners are protected under the First Amendment, the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978 and rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court including the 1979 case Bell v. Wolfish, which found that prisoners “do not forfeit all Constitutional protections by reason of their conviction and confinement in prison.”

Ten tribes petitioned the governor for a reversal of the 2010 policies, but it took over two years for the WDOC to restore Native prisoners’ religious rights.

My opinion? This tradition brings healing and strength. And society must recognize that the rehabilitation of inmates would be enhanced if their religious and cultural practices were permitted.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Racial Disparities in Sentencing

Opinion | At Long Last, a Measure of Justice for Some Drug Offenders - The New York Times

The Sentencing Project and the ACLU submitted a shadow report to the United Nations on the impact of racial disparities in sentencing.

The report addresses sentencing and imprisonment. It also discusses racism in the application of the death penalty. Finally, it focuses on issues for youth in the adult and juvenile justice systems.

According to the report, the proportion of people of color who are incarcerated in the nation compared with their representation in the general population epitomizes the need to achieve racial justice.

“The nation incarcerates almost two million people—more than any other country in the world—and over five times more per capita than just 40 years ago,” it says. “But the burden of criminal sentencing and imprisonment is not inflicted equally.” It goes on to say that Black and Latinx residents are incarcerated at rates five and three times higher than white residents, respectively. One of every 81 Black adults in the U.S. is in prison.

“These staggering disparities create individual and community barriers to full and equal participation in American society. Criminal convictions and imprisonment can prevent individuals from voting and gaining employment, undermine access to safe housing, negatively impact the life outcomes of children, and substantially lower lifetime earnings, amongst other social, political and economic disadvantages.” ~Racial Disparities in Sentencing in the United States, July 14, 2022

The report argues that while these are individual consequences, there are also societal consequences: high levels of imprisonment in communities bring about crime, poverty and neighborhood deterioration through decreased political power that fuels greater disparities. This cycle of suffering, social exclusion and disempowerment is primarily experienced by African Americans and other people of color.

The enormous racial disparities, discrimination and inequality created by the United States’ system of mass incarceration did not occur by happenstance. They are the product of deliberate legal and policy choices created by a dominant white population supported by a culture of white supremacy.

The report says, for instance, that the so-called “War on Drugs” which greatly accelerated America’s mass incarceration build-up starting in the 1970’s was initiated as a deliberate effort by President Richard Nixon and his administration to disrupt, vilify and oppress communities of color for political gain and control, rather than a legal initiative primarily concerned about improving public safety.

These racist underpinnings of the criminal legal system in the United States must be acknowledged in order for meaningful reform to be accomplished and human rights to finally be upheld. Despite the centrality of racial disparities in the criminal legal system, and in sentencing and imprisonment in particular, these critical areas of race discrimination and disparate impact receive scant attention in the U.S. government’s combined tenth to twelfth periodic reports submitted to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in 2021.

Kudos to the Sentencing Project and the ACLU for their insightful report. And please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Parents in Prison

Tips to Support Children When a Parent is in Prison - HealthyChildren.org

A fact sheet from the Sentencing Project gives key facts on parents in prison. It illustrates the policies that impede their ability to care for their children when released from prison. Here’s an overview:

  • In 2016, 47% of people in state prisons and 57% in federal prisons were parents of minor children.
  • Most parents in prison are fathers (626,800 fathers compared to 57,700 mothers).
  • The number of fathers in prison increased 48% and the number of mothers in prison increased 96% between 1991 and 2016.

Also according to the article, 2.7 million children have a parent serving time in prison or jail on any given day, and over 5.2 million have had an incarcerated parent at some point during their lives. Furthermore, the percentage of children who have experienced parental incarceration varies widely state to state, from a low of 3% in New Jersey to a high of 13% in Kentucky.

The prevalence of parental incarceration also varies considerably by race. In 2018, 20% of Native children, 13% of Black children, 6% of Latinx children, and 6% of white children had experienced parental incarceration at some point in their lives.

According to the National Institute of Justice, the impacts of parental incarceration on children bring terribly negative consequences. They include psychological stress, antisocial behavior, academic suspension or expulsion, economic hardship, and criminal activity.

The growth and decline of the number of children with imprisoned parents mirrors the changing incarceration rates of the past few decades. Between 1972 and 2009, the U.S. prison population increased nearly 700%, due to policy changes including long mandatory sentences, the declining use of parole, and more punitive responses to substance use disorders.

The arrest of a parent can be traumatic for many children. As noted in a comprehensive review of research on children with incarcerated parents, the arrest and removal of a mother or father from a child’s life forces that child to confront emotional, social and economic consequences that may trigger behavior problems, poor outcomes in school and a disruption or severance of the relationship with the incarcerated parent that may persist even after the parent is released from prison.

I work hard to reunite families separated by the criminal justice system. Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Crowded Jail Cells

Coronavirus spreads in California prisons: Latest cases | The Sacramento Bee

Great article by senior reporter for Newsweek reports that crowded cells in jails across the U.S. could help the rapid spread of Coronavirus. Top Democratic senators have accordingly asked prison authorities to reveal what contingency plans there are to tackle any outbreak.

According to the article, The Sentencing Project has called on public officials to release people in jail who do not pose a public safety risk. This jail population includes those housed in pre-trial detention or rehabilitated people.

“Existing unsanitary and overcrowded prison and jail conditions will exacerbate the spread of the new coronavirus . . . Elderly incarcerated people often pose little public safety risk but disproportionately suffer from chronic medical conditions and thus are at the highest risk of dying from COVID-19.” ~The Sentencing Project senior research analyst Nazgol Ghandnoosh

Ghandnoosh emphasized that time is of the essence to avert a public health catastrophe in the United States’ prisons and jails.

The sentiment echoes concerns voiced by other prisoners’ rights advocates, who fear the implications the virus will have for the 2.2 million people living in the U.S. penal system.

Last week, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers president Nina Ginsberg said in a statement that, given the spread of the virus: “There is every reason to question whether American detention facilities, as a whole, are up to this challenge.”

Meanwhile, Maria Morris of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) National Prison Project wrote in an op-ed this week that jails were not closed environments, and had staff and visitors coming into the facilities and returning home, posing a considerable risk.

Also, top Democrats signed a letter asking the Federal Bureau of Prisons about its coronavirus plans. presidential contender Senator Bernie Sanders, and former primary candidates Senators Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren were among the signees. The letter, which was also addressed to prison operators GEO Group, CoreCivic, and Management and Training Corporation, asked if staff and inmates who may be vulnerable have been identified, how they will be treated if they test positive and how staff shortages caused by the virus will be dealt with.

My opinion? Kudos to those involved in these efforts. Protecting incarcerated people during a contagious health crisis by expediting releases would reduce the burden on prison staff. It would also reduce demand for limited hospital resources which are shared with the broader public.

Please read Making Bail and contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged and jailed. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Washington Department of Corrections Ends Solitary Confinement

Solitary Confinement: Punishment Or Cruelty? : NPR

People incarcerated at Department of Corrections (DOC) facilities will no longer be subjected to disciplinary segregation — being put in solitary confinement as a punishment — after state officials determined it is not effective.

Individuals in solitary confinement are locked in a cell for 22–24 hours per day with no social contact. The effects of solitary confinement on the human mind and body range from anxiety, depression, and heart palpitations to deteriorating eyesight, paranoia, and psychosis. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that approximately 25% of people in prison and 35% of those in jail who had spent 30 days or longer in solitary confinement during the previous year had symptoms of serious psychological distress. The rates were similar for those who only spent 1 day in isolation.

“This is indeed a historic moment in the department,” said DOC Secretary Cheryl Strange. “This is definitely a key step in becoming a human-centered organization by advancing proven correctional practices and methods that support individuals in change.

“The science is clear on this, and the science says stop doing it,” Strange said, adding that the practice has not been effective at deterring negative behavior.

The DOC refers to the practice as “disciplinary segregation,” and says the term “solitary confinement” is archaic and does not reflect the fact that incarcerated individuals receive programming and other benefits.

The agency made the change after collecting data on the practice of isolating incarcerated people for punishment. It found that of the 2,500 incidents where people were subjected to disciplinary segregation from Sept. 1, 2019 through Aug. 31, 2020, the majority — 57% — were disciplined for nonviolent infractions.

People who received disciplinary segregation on average spent from 11 days to 16 days in isolation. Many had already been subjected to administrative segregation, which involves isolating a person for the safety of themselves or others, while their disciplinary hearing was pending. Since most received credit for that time served in administrative segregation — which will remain in effect — the actual time spent in disciplinary segregation was relatively short, the DOC said.

Gov. Jay Inslee said the DOC’s decision “is the right thing to do.”

My opinion? Good decision. Perhaps the most disturbing consequence of solitary confinement is its skyrocketing effect on rates of self-harm and suicide among incarcerated individuals: Though only 3–8% of the incarcerated population in the United States is in solitary confinement, they represent 50% of prison suicides.

Prison should be avoided. Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

U.S. Prison Trends

Mass Incarceration, Then and Now | The New Yorker

The Sentencing Project devised a fact sheet which provides a compilation of major developments in the criminal justice system over the past several decades. Some highlights are as follows:

  • Mass Incarceration – The United States is the world’s leader in incarceration with 2 million people currently in the nation’s prisons and jails — a 500% increase over the last forty years.
  • Drug Policy – At the federal level, people incarcerated on a drug conviction make up nearly half the prison population. At the state level, the number of people in prison for drug offenses has increased nine-fold since 1980, although it has begun declining in recent years.
  • Racial Disparities – Black men are six times as likely to be incarcerated as white men and Latinos are 2.5 times as likely. For Black men in their thirties, about 1 in every 12 is in prison or jail on any given day.
  • Youth – Although youth detention populations are declining, youth of
    color enter the system much more frequently than white youth and are more likely to be sentenced to harsher terms of punishment. In addition, young people are transferred to the adult system each year and tried as if they were adults, and many are sent to adult prisons and jails to serve their sentences.
  • Felony Disenfranchisement – As of 2020, 5.2 million Americans were unable to vote due to state felony disenfranchisement policies.
  • Life Sentences – The number of people serving life sentences endures even while serious, violent crime has been declining for the past 20 years. This population has nearly quintupled since 1984. One in seven people in prison are serving life with parole, life without parole, or virtual life (50 years or more).

The Sentencing Project is a non-profit agency that promotes effective and humane responses to crime that minimize imprisonment and criminalization of youth and adults by promoting racial, ethnic, economic, and gender justice.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Prison Inmates Retaliated Against for Getting COVID-19

Image result for jail inmates getting covid

Excellent article by Lilly Fowler of Crosscut reports that prisoners, attorneys and other advocates said the WA Department of Corrections has not only been careless with protocols meant to keep COVID-19 cases in check, but has also lashed out at those who become ill.

They accuse the department of stigmatizing those who become sick with the virus, even as cases skyrocket in prisons and work release facilities across the state. Critics blame the department’s lack of an organized response for the rapid spread of the virus.

Apparently, the Office of the Corrections Ombuds, the state’s watchdog, has already found fault with the Department of Corrections’ response to the COVID-19 outbreak at the Coyote Ridge Corrections Center in Central Washington. Two people there died in June, and more than 300 prisoners and 100 staff have been infected. Coyote Ridge houses approximately 2,500 inmates.

In a report about the COVID-19 outbreak at Coyote Ridge, investigators said that in addition to guards not wearing masks and failing to isolate symptomatic prisoners, inmates had delayed reporting symptoms because they feared harsh conditions in solitary confinement. The two prisoners who died had waited days to report difficulty breathing, according to the investigation.

That same summer, families of prisoners accused the Department of Corrections of retaliating against six men who contracted the virus and were housed at Reynolds Work Release in downtown Seattle. Similar to other inmates at the Bishop Lewis Work Release facility, the so-called Reynolds six were sent back to prison. Although they were eventually released, the men had been singled out in part because they are Black, Muslim or Indigenous, their families said.

According to reporter Lilly Fowler, critics say the situation at Bishop Lewis shows that the Department of Corrections’ response to the pandemic isn’t improving even nearly a year into the public health emergency. Instead, the same patterns are emerging. They argue it’s time for Gov. Jay Inslee to reconsider doing more to reduce the prison population, or at the very least ensure those who become ill and speak up aren’t retaliated against.

My opinion? The Coronavirus Pandemic has threatened to turn jail sentences into death sentences. Therefore, anyone involved in the criminal justice system should do their very best to avoid jails and prisons. Convicted defendants who are sentenced to jail should seek jail alternatives. And anyone who is in jail facing criminal charges who can make bail should make bail, or at least get bail lowered to an affordable amount.

Please review my Legal Guide titled Making Bail and contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.