How has Covid-19 Impacted the Judicial System? These 3 Changes Will Surprise You!
How have prisoners been faring amidst this pandemic? How have criminal cases been tried? Has the judicial system been able to operate efficiently during this time?
While the judicial system should be the least of anyone’s concerns, it’s important to take note of what impact the pandemic has had on it.
Due to economic destruction that Covid-19 has caused, many people have been forced out of their jobs and with each passing day are finding it difficult to provide for themselves and their families. The stimulus package did provide a bit of relief but many Americans — even the most prudent ones — are about to use the last few dollars in their bank account.
What does this mean? Well, it means that people might resort to theft and other petty crimes and this might be at an alarmingly high rate! Is the judicial system equipped to bring these people to justice?
In the wake of George Floyd’s death, crime has been on the increase with scores of people burning and looting stores.
Some of these perpetrators have been caught but with the risk that physical contact poses with Covid-19 and the fact that many of these people would not be able to afford bail, how are they going to be brought to justice?
Here are three ways in which the pandemic has affected the judicial system:
High levels of Covid-19 infection
Prisons are not known for practicing social distancing. It is encouraged for prisoners to be together so that they can be monitored. Social distancing in prison means that new facilities would have to be built to facilitate it — something that cannot be done on a whim. As such, infection rates in prisons have been high across the country with the state of Texas recording the most cases to date.
$0 Bail System
In an attempt to alleviate the conditions in prison, the state of California issued $0 bail for those that have committed less serious crimes. This resulted in a spike of criminal activity and also posed the risk that a dangerous criminal might have been released. Many law enforcement officers see the bailing system as ineffective as they are having to arrest the same criminal multiple times for petty crimes. Recently, the state of California lifted the ban but the city of Los Angeles kept it — the reason for this is still not clear.
In addition to the $0 bail system, there is also a reform in progress that is seeking to have perpetrators released with a minimum bail penalty to preserve the public health of the defendants and those appearing in court. While the health of the people must be given special attention, many citizens do not like the basis on which the reform stands. As such, they are calling for this reform to be removed from the 2020 state ballot.
There are many other impacts that the pandemic is having on the judicial system. We can only hope that the law and policymakers find effective solutions and that we — the people — hold them accountable for doing that.