Startup Fortune, Santa Rosa, CA – Criminal defense attorney Rahul Balaram discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly influenced the criminal justice system in the United States.
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the United States since it began to spread in February of this year. While most of the country has focused on the lasting impacts of businesses, restaurants, and schools being shut down, the criminal justice system was affected just as much.
“Law enforcement agencies, officers, court systems, and correctional facilities have had to adapt to the COVID-19 impact,” stated criminal defense attorney Rahul Balaram. To prevent the spreading of the COVID-19 virus, many law enforcement officers have reduced their contact with the public.
In one instance, over 20% of the New York Police Department was out on sick leave due to the virus back in April. With fewer officers available to patrol the streets, the numbers of arrests have gone down significantly. While the crime rate has stayed about the same as it was a year ago, there are fewer arrests taking place due to the risk of virus transmission. In addition, as jails tend to be overcrowded, fewer arrests have occurred as there is no place to bring suspects once they have been incarcerated.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also generated a large backlog of cases for both the federal and state court systems. During the months since the pandemic began, several courts have shut down altogether. As a result, the constitutional right to a public and speedy trial has been threatened, as many cases have been delayed for months. Some courts had already been looking at cases taking up to six months to appear in court, but now that time lag has increased to a year or more before a trial can occur. Court systems are pressed to find alternative methods to proceed, as keeping jurors close to one another or convening in small deliberation rooms is just not feasible for the foreseeable future. The Supreme Court has even had to seek new methods to keep their judicial system going, as they began to allow for oral arguments to be made via live stream and teleconferences back in May.
Correctional facilities have significantly been impacted, too, as inmates living in close quarters are incredibly high risk of spreading the virus quickly. Not only are inmates at risk, but prison personnel as well since they must remain in close contact at all times. To try to help reduce the spread of the virus, some facilities across the country have implemented procedures to enable certain, nonviolent inmates that are nearing the end of their sentences, to be able to be released early to their homes.
With the future uncertain for when systems can return to normal, the criminal justice system will be pressed with finding new footing to move forward for the safety and protection of the nation.
About Rahul Balaram
Rahul Balaram worked as a Public Defender for Solano County for many years and has represented hundreds of clients. Most recently, he worked on the misdemeanor conflict panel representing indigent clients. Rahul Balaram can be contacted at the Balaram Law Office in Santa Rosa and is available for consultation by phone and text 24/7. He represents his clients with dignity, compassion, and competence.
Balaram Law Office
250 D St, Ste 236, Santa Rosa, CA, 95404