Those who are in prison awaiting trial for crimes for which they have been accused are considered innocent until proven guilty. Yet the law has a vested interest in holding some detainees until trial—especially if they are considered either flight risks or a danger to the community.
Despite that, one Chicago criminal defense attorney was able to get over a dozen Chicago inmates released amid the COVID-19 epidemic.
Prisons and Jails are Responsible for Inmate Safety
Once an individual has been convicted of a crime and sentenced to prison time, they become a ward of the state. The state has a duty of care to ensure these inmates are fed, sheltered, and safe. When they fail in that duty of care, they can be sued by family members of the inmate or the inmate themselves for any injuries they suffer on account of the state’s lapse in their duty of care. When prisons and jails are sued for negligence in this manner, it is usually related to the negligent practice of medicine or the failure to get an inmate the medical care they need in time.
On the one hand, these lawsuits can be filed against both the state and private health agencies that provide medical services to prisons, on the other hand, filing lawsuits against the state is mired in sovereign immunity laws that place caps on damages and require attorneys to jump through several hoops to file the lawsuit. In some cases, the law provides immunity for government agencies from certain types of litigation.
But what happens when the prison or jail can no longer guarantee the safety of their inmates?
Cook County Jail Overrun with Coronavirus?
Cook County Jail has been identified as a major coronavirus hotspot. It makes sense. You have a number of people in close quarters who are prevented from moving outside the facility. Prisoners have contracted the disease and some have died. It is not just the prisoners who are impacted by the spread of COVID-19, it is also the corrections officers and employees who work for the prison.
Thus far, one Chicago attorney has worked tirelessly to free inmates from Cook County Jail. She has been responsible for sending at least 10 detainees home. What are the conditions for a coronavirus release?
The county announced that it would allow prisoners to go home if they were not being accused of violent crimes and were not likely to attempt to skip bail. Additionally, there may be prisoners who are in the risk pool of developing the most severe complications from COVID-19.
Already, some inmates have died in a Cook County Jail cell without ever having the chance to plead their case before the court. Jail is not meant to be a death sentence, it is meant to prevent the accused from skipping trial.
Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you have been accused of a serious crime, then you need an attorney who will fight for you every step of the way. This includes ensuring that you are not held in county jail while you are facing charges. Call David Freidberg today at (312) 560-7100 to learn more about how we can help.