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Criminal law- sentencing in the era of Covid 19

Normally, courts and law generally, are about 10 years behind the times.

Not so with Covid 19.

There is a stated and an unstated reason why courts are considering the realities of Covid 19 in sentencing decisions.

The stated reason is that jails and prisons have become even more dangerous than before to inmates, particularly those with asthma or with immune systems weakened by chronic drug use. In addition, the safety efforts by the jails largely involve greater use of lockdowns, i.e. an inmate can be confined to his/her cell for over 20 hours a day, versus 10 or so hours in a more normal environment. Thus, some courts recently have gone back to using a 2 for 1 calculation for pre-plea custody, rather than the 1.5 ratio applied over the last few years.

The unstated reason for the change, is that jails are an incubator for Covid and that prisoners, once released, are a vector for the disease. Thus, better to keep them either out of jail in the first place or to limit their time there.

Expect to see a much larger use of home confinement via ankle bracelet in the near future.

We in the general public, now know, how punitive, home confinement can feel.



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