September 17, 2020 Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defense

COVID-19 Resources

COVID-19 and Access to Justice

Across the country, civil and criminal justice system stakeholders are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in a variety of ways that directly impact access to justice. Below are websites, court orders, news items, legislation, and other resources that have been compiled by SCLAID and presented here for the benefit of the access to justice community. Note that changes are occurring rapidly and all websites provided below likely will be updated accordingly. Many of the other resources (including court orders, courtroom signage, government-issued guidance, emergency legislation, etc.) were shared by members of the access to justice community specifically to provide examples of how various state and local justice systems are responding to the pandemic. This page will be updated as new information is shared and/or discovered, so please be sure to check back frequently.

For Coronavirus-related news articles, please visit:

ATJ Headlines

Public Defense News

Judicial Branch

Federal

State-by-State Overview

Alaska

Arizona

District of Columbia

Georgia

Kansas

Michigan

North Carolina

Ohio

Pennsylvania

Tennessee

Washington State

Legislative Branch

Federal

State-by-State Overview

District of Columbia

Executive Branch

Federal

State-by-State Overview

Illinois

Texas

Washington State

Bar Associations

American Bar Association

Association of Pro Bono Counsel

Arizona

Michigan

Pennsylvania

Washington State Bar Association

Criminal Justice

Jails and Prisons

COVID-19 in Jails and Prisons: Seeking Release to Reduce Spread

Generally speaking, there are four types of jail/prison release under consideration to reduce the susceptibility of incarcerated persons to widespread outbreaks of COVID-19:

  1. expanded pretrial release;
  2. release of low-level offenders;
  3. early release of those close to concluding a sentence (coming soon); and
  4. compassionate release of those most vulnerable to COVID-19.

For each of these areas, this page provides a summary of ABA policy supportive of release efforts, as well as links to news and relevant webinars created by the ABA. The linked webinar pages contain not only video of the webinars, but summaries of the webinar and model materials on the specific topics.

In many states, public defenders and civil rights groups filed petitions to State Supreme Court's seeking release of several of the above populations.  Some examples:

  • In New Mexico, the Petition argues for the release of the medically vulnerable as well as those with less than a year remaining on their sentences
  • In Pennsylvania, a King's Bench Petition to the PA Supreme Court argued for release of those who are older and/or medically vulnerable as well as those with three months or less remaining on a sentence, among others.
  • Similar petitions have been filed in Washington State and  Massachusetts, among many others.

Re-entry Issues for Prisoners Released During the COVID-19 PandemicAs courts consider whether to grant release, questions arise concerning release planning during the various closures and stay-at-home orders.  How do you release someone who is symptomatic or has tested positive?  How do you ensure they have a place to self-quarantine, if necessary?  How do you make sure that they will have access to basics -- such as housing and food -- particularly given the current employment situation?  The ABA conducted a webinar on Release Planning During COVID-19.  The webinar and its materials page attempt to answer many of these questions.

COVID-19 in Jails and Prisons: The Duty to Maintain a Healthy Facility

The ABA Criminal Justice Standards on Treatment of Prisoners provide tremendous guidance on the duties of a correctional facility to maintain the health of prisoners.  These Standards address Physical Plant and Environmental Conditions (Standard 23-3.1), Provision of Necessities to prisoners (Standard 23-3.5), and Access to Health Care (Standard 23-2.1; 23-6.1 – 23- 6.14).

Below are some news reports about efforts to address conditions at correctional facilities to prevent the spread of COVID-19:

News is updated regularly on the ABA SCLAID indigent defense news website.

Prison Policy Initiative – Data resource page, as well as way to slow spread of virus in facilities.

Legal Aid Funding, Advocacy, or Other Organizations

National Resources

California

Louisiana

Ohio

Legal Services Providers

National Resources

Alaska

California

District of Columbia

Florida

Georgia

Michigan

Minnesota

New Mexico

New York

Ohio

Tennessee

Texas

Virginia

Washington State

Access to Justice Commissions

Arizona

California

Illinois

Maryland

Massachusetts

Mississippi

New York

North Carolina

Texas

Washington State

Communications Initiatives