April 09, 2020 RAPID RESPONSE

Lessons from Past Disasters: Criminal Justice Response to COVID-19

COVID-19 is new, but many of the problems it is causing in the criminal justice system are problems we have seen before.  After Hurricane Katrina, several jails had to be evacuated, causing overcrowding at other facilities. At the same time, arrests continued, even as many courts, including the Louisiana Supreme Court, closed for extended periods. The situation left advocates scrambling to seek release for pretrial detainees, low-level offenders, and older, more vulnerable offenders, while also coping with personal losses, office closures and other impacts of the storm. Advocates who worked through talked about the lessons they learned from Hurricane Katrina and what they think it should teach us about how to respond to COVID-19, as well as how to address the aftermath of the pandemic when it, at last, subsides. 

With heightened concerns nationwide about data confidentiality and diminished trust in the federal government, lawyers in all practice areas may find themselves being asked about the Census 2020, which begins nationwide in March, by their clients.
With heightened concerns nationwide about data confidentiality and diminished trust in the federal government, lawyers in all practice areas may find themselves being asked about the Census 2020, which begins nationwide in March, by their clients.

Panelists

  • Derwyn Bunton, Chief District Defender, Orleans Parish Public Defender's Office, New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Honorable Arthur L. Hunter, Presiding Judge, Orleans Criminal District Court (Ret.)
  • Katherine Maris Mattes, Senior Professor of the Practice & Director, Criminal Justice Clinic, Tulane University Law School

Moderator

  • Pamela R. Metzger, Professor  of Law & Director, Deason Criminal Justice Reform Center, Southern Methodist Unversity Dedman School of Law

Joint Sponsors: ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants, ABA Criminal Justice Section

Co-Sponsors: ABA Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights & ResponsibilitiesABA Commission on Homelessness & Poverty, ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the ProfessionABA Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, ABA Government and Public Sector Lawyers DivisionABA Section of Litigation, ABA Section of State and Local Government Law, ABA Senior Lawyers Division

Resources

How a Hurricane Led New Orleans to Change Its Approach to Criminal Justice

Lessons from Huricane Katrina: Prison Emergency Preparedness as a Constitutional Imperative

After Katrina: Washed Away? Justice in New Orleans

Summary of Criminal Justice in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina

Abandoned and Abused - ACLU Report on treatment of Orleans Parish prisoners during and after Hurricane Katrina

With 3 inmates, 20 Harris County Jail officials positive for coronavirus, battle over inmate release continues

Federal public defenders in Kansas want some inmates released to avoid coronavirus

Self-Care and Mindfulness:
Please remember to engage in self-care. During the webinar, we discussed mindfulness as an aspect of self-care. Here are some free mindfulness options aimed at the legal community:

Mindfulness for the Pandemic:
Drop-in Guided Meditation
Every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, at 8:30 p.m. EDT/5:30 p.m. PDT
Zoom Link (includes password)
Please add it to your calendar - it will be the same Zoom link everyday

The Wake Up Call:
10 Minute Meditation Class online on Zoom
Thursday Mornings at 11:00 a.m. EDT/8:00 a.m. PDT
Free during April and May
Click here to register
Once you register, they will send you a reminder each Thursday morning through May.

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