The World Health Organization (WHO) officially announced on March 11, 2020, that the coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19 is a pandemic. As the virus has now spread to all 50 states, health officials strongly advise people to follow different medical guidelines such as social distancing, frequent hand washing, avoiding social gatherings, and cough and sneeze etiquettes. These guidelines might seem straightforward to the regular society, but with a closed community like jails in Denver, it’s a challenge to execute.
On an average day, the Denver jails hold approximately 2,000 inmates. In such a crowd, the coronavirus can quickly spread just among inmates but also attorneys, correctional staff, court staff personnel, probation and parole officers, and their families!
Experts believe a more comprehensive action plan should be implemented across Denver jails and prisons. Here are some of the recommended essential steps to make Denver jails ready for a coronavirus outbreak.
Manage the Population in Denver’s Jails
The granting of pre-trial and post-conviction release can be done to lessen the crowd in Denver jails and prisons. Inmates who have an ongoing trial can talk to a 24-hour bail bonds company to process cheap bail bonds in Denver for them. On the other hand, inmates who are convicted and with less than 30 days left in their sentence can be discharged. In addition, officials can consider expediting the release through parole of inmates over the age of 60 years old, especially with other serious health conditions.
Reduce and Limit New Inmates
Arresting officers can dramatically trim down the rate of further incarceration through pre-trial release on personal recognizance. This can apply especially to offenders who are at low risk with a misdemeanor offense. With the help of a 24-hour bail bonds company, any offender still needs to undergo the legal process as mandated by the law.
Experts also propose that, during this public health crisis, arrest policies can be changed. When applicable, a summon can be issued instead of an arrest. Custodial arrests, as well as arrests for technical parole and probation violations, may be reduced.
Limit In-Person Court Appearances of Defendants and Lawyers
Since the coronavirus is easily transmitted through person to person contact, the mobility of people going in and out of jail should be limited. Policies can be adjusted to suspend all in-person court appearances related to pre-trial supervision, parole, or probation meetings. Instead of in-person presentations, telephone bond hearings should be encouraged.
Authorities can also temporarily limit or ban visitations for inmates. In exchange, an increase of phone time, and other means of communication to their families must be considered.
Follow General Health Protocols
Whether in jail or not, health professionals currently conduct COVID-19 testing for people with symptoms only. It is necessary for Denver jails, along with all the communities in the United States, to follow general health protocols. These include proper hygiene and disinfecting jail facilities, social distancing, hand washing and sanitizing, and wearing face masks.
Preventive measures should be in place to limit the spread of the coronavirus. In Denver jails and prisons, experts say it is high time to implement policy modifications that do not compromise the system.
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