Letter to OCA Re: Preventive Measures Against COVID-19
The New York Civil Liberties Union wrote a letter to the Office of Court Administration urging courts around the state to do their part to prevent and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in jails and prisons by limiting the influx of new people into these facilities.
The letter argues that with health officials designating COVID-19 a pandemic, courts must help to prevent the spread of coronavirus in correctional settings. This can be done by—at minimum—prioritizing the use of diversion programs, sentencing criminal defendants to alternatives to incarceration, issuing fewer bench warrants, and restricting overall orders for new admissions to jail and prison to only extraordinary circumstances necessary for public safety.
To ease the burden on correctional institutions and greatly aid in containing this health crisis, courts have a responsibility to limit the introduction of more people from the community into jails and prisons, which could serve as hotbeds for disease.