COVID-19 and Criminal Justice

Suing to Save Lives--Cullors v. County of Los Angeles

Legal action is being taken against the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department for the lack of adequate protection and care of the people incarcerated in LA County Jails during this pandemic. Dignity & Power Now and Youth Justice Coalition, along with 9 currently incarcerated individuals, are the named plaintiffs in the lawsuit, and the case is filed on behalf of a putative class of everyone incarcerated in Los Angeles County jails. This lawsuit joins a myriad of other lawsuits that have been filed across the country in the wake of COVID-19, as well as a recent ACLU study citing COVID-19 could kill approximately 100,000 more people if jail populations are not dramatically and immediately reduced. Faculty of the UCLA Law Clinics, Hadsell Stormer Renick & Dai LLP, Kaye McLane Bednarski & Litt LLP, Civil Rights Corps, and the American Civil Liberties Union are representing the plaintiffs.

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The Criminal Justice Program proposes public health pathways for the criminal justice system's response to COVID-19

Incarceration carries increased risks to the health of people who are incarcerated and corrections staff that can frustrate management of the COVID-19 pandemic. These principles provide pathways for institutional approaches to maintain health and safety during COVID-19 and beyond.

Read Proposed Public Health and Public Safety Pathways for Criminal Justice System Responses to COVID-19

Letter to the California Judicial Council Regarding COVID-19

On April 20, 2020, the Criminal Justice Program at UCLA School of Law submitted a letter to the California Judicial Council on behalf of 37 law faculty from around the state of California addressing the Judicial Council's recent orders that extend the statutory time for criminal hearings. The letter asks for the Judicial Council to heed the warnings of public health experts as well as the frightening precedent of places like Rikers Island and Cook County Jail that have seen the deaths of people incarcerated there from COVID-19. In the context of jails that are woefully equipped to maintain sanitary conditions, provide adequate testing, or follow any of the CDC guidelines for care, it is pressing that people incarcerated in the jails spend less time there rather than more. The letter urges the Judicial Council to amend the orders so as to preserve the statutory timelines set out in the California Penal Code for people currently in custody so they will not be subjected to prolonged periods of time in facilities that place them at incredibly high risk of serious injury or death due to COVID-19.

Read the letter to the Judicial Council.

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