Coronavirus

Ohio Releases 28 Low-Level Offenders To Reduce Spread of Coronavirus

One man was arrested because he didn't have enough bus fare to make his court date.

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An Ohio county is minimizing the spread of coronavirus in its corrections system by releasing inmates from its jail.

Overcrowding, poor sanitary conditions, and the presence of elderly inmates contribute to the fear that American jails and prisons are ill-prepared for the spread of coronavirus. Leonard Rubenstein, a senior scientist at Johns Hopkins, told Axios that prisons are the "perfect environment for the spread of COVID-19" because of these factors.

To reduce the risk to its county jail, the Cuyahoga County Court conducted hearings on a Saturday (something that happens rarely). They processed multiple cases that ended in plea deals, sentencing, court-supervised treatment, probation, or jail time at a state facility. By the end of the day, 28 low-level offenders were released. Officials have a goal of releasing 300 offenders before the situation worsens.

Reporter Cory Shaffer tweeted that one of the inmates released was arrested after a lack of bus fare prevented him from appearing in court.

As of Monday, Cuyahoga County reported 24 confirmed coronavirus cases. Dr. Amy Acton, the director of the Ohio Department of Health, estimated last week that 100,000 Ohioans, one percent of the state's population, was carrying the virus.

The concern for inmates is a national matter. Some states have canceled visitation, public defenders are calling for the release of non-violent offenders, and district attorneys are reconsidering bail policies. Reason's Scott Shackford reported in 2018 how America's bail system keeps poor people behind bars despite not being convicted of a crime. The Prison Policy Initiative also found in 2018 that most people sitting in jail have yet to be convicted.

Some parts of the legal system are only implementing half-measures. A Baltimore youth defender tweeted that a judge denied a motion to release a 15-year-old charged with a misdemeanor while citing coronavirus as a reason to delay his trial.

Last week, Democratic and Republican senators submitted letters inquiring the Bureau of Prisons and Immigration and Customs Enforcement about their plans to keep inmates and detainees healthy during the pandemic.

Other countries are facing similar issues. Iran, which currently has the third-highest number of confirmed cases worldwide, temporarily freed 70,000 prisoners earlier this month to curb the spread of COVID-19 in jails.

NEXT: Maybe Doctors Shouldn't Need the Government's Permission To Fight Coronavirus

Coronavirus Ohio Criminal Justice Jail

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26 responses to “Ohio Releases 28 Low-Level Offenders To Reduce Spread of Coronavirus

  1. One man was arrested because he didn’t have enough bus fare to make his court date.

    Really? Who knew it was illegal to not have enough bus fare?

    I suspect what actually happened is that he was arrested for missing his court date and the bus fare is irrelevant. No, that doesn’t make it less shitty, just more correct.

    1. Well obviously this poor soul is a paraplegic. Probably his wheelchair was stolen and the courthouse was too far to crawl. His phone must have been broken, and he had no way of calling either a friend for a ride or the courthouse to explain the situation. We can only surmise he also had laryngitis and was unable to holler for a neighbor/passerby to use their phone…

      1. Can we surmise he used his bus fare to buy some weed or dope?

        1. Why is it no cops raid wall street where it is know all the traders are geeked up on coke all day long? Why do they not raid movie and recording studios where they actors and musicians all admit on TV they are doing drugs all day long, which you think is cool.
          Why do they not raid high schools in affluent neighborhoods were most of the kids are smoking crack? A renovated building, funded in part by the tax payers, next to my office had an open house. I know for a fact as part of this open house celebration, they hired a young guy whose sole job was to pervey and deliver cokaine to the party goers. Those who attended were of course upstanding members of the community…lawyers, accountants and real estate agents. You are a racist of the most dangerous kind…an very ignorant one.

          1. I’m not saying I’m for making drugs illegal, I’m just saying when ain’t got a pot to piss in, do not spend your transportation money to got to court in order to smoke a few joints…If you do, you deserve to be in jail!

            You say:

            “Why do they not raid high schools in affluent neighborhoods were most of the kids are smoking crack?”

            Hey Bro, crack use peaked a long time ago & even when it was riding high, I’m pretty sure most affluent white high schoolers were not smoking it….Your statement is LUDICROUS!!!

      2. Everything is so terrible and unfair.

    2. I suspect what actually happened is that he was arrested for missing his court date and the bus fare is irrelevant. No, that doesn’t make it less shitty, just more correct.

      Could potentially make it less shitty. If he was suspected of vehicle theft, it would make it ironic.

    3. You are the type who believes poor people choose to be poor. It shows your level of ignorance and contempt for the poor. I attended a traffic court to kill time, between college classes, the court house being across the street. They got a poor old black man charged with driving with bald tires. Obviously, most poor people can’t afford to buy new tires, they can barely buy food, but they need the car to go to work as the US mass transit system sucks. So the courts treats it as an intentional act, he was intentionally driving with bald tires. They threw a fine at him. Here’s the poor guy who has no money to buy new tires, now has to find more money to pay a fine. The sure way for municipalities to raise money without taxing those who can afford to pay, thereby assuring to get reelected, is to criminalize the poor. You are one aragant stooge.

      1. Yup. Everything is so terrible and unfair.

        Aragant. Haha

      2. The courts do plenty of this crap to middle class white people too, but we ain’t an Oppressed class!

      3. You are the type who believes poor people choose to be poor.

        Questions for you boss; do rich people choose to be rich? Is poor the default and rich is a choice people make or is it just the luck of the draw? Are there choices poor people can make that will make them less poor, but for some reason, like the luck of the draw, they don’t make those choices?

  2. Non-excessive bail is already a constitutional right under the 8th Amendment.

    Don’t let government hacks get any feel good publicity when they normally violate the Constitution with smiles.

  3. There’s no need to BS with the truth.

    “One man was arrested because he didn’t have enough bus fare to make his court date.”

    He was arrested because he didn’t show up for his court date.

    1. Well, he got a free ride from the cops AFTER he missed the date. Why don’t they let folks call the cops for a free ride to the court house ON the court date?
      Oh, right. Donut sales would tank and plunge us into crisis.

      1. There are certain things that are necessary for the proper functioning of justice. Compelling people to come to court–either as a defendant or as a witness–is one of them. Yeah, I’d think that if people are entitled to anything from government, it’s free transportation when they’ve been compelled to appear in court. But that’s not what’s going on here.

        When people are arrested, indicted, and released pending their court date, they can be released on their own “recognizance” as a substitute for bail. That means that if he’s a defendant, then he recognizes that he has a legal obligation to appear in court at such and such a time on a certain date. They enter into that agreement more or less willingly–and it is the alternative to bail.

        If he was a defendant, then there was enough evidence to indict the defendant and hold him in jail until trial, but the judge agreed to release him until the trial date IF IF IF the defendant agreed to come back to court on the trial date. No bail necessary!

        If he agreed to show up and he broke that agreement–then he was arrested for breaking that agreement. If he’s a defendant, I don’t know whether the initial crime he was accused of was something that should be legitimately against the law, but, otherwise, this is the way things should happen in Libertopia, too. Can’t have justice without compelling defendants and witnesses to appear in court.

        If all that is so, this guy was not arrested because he didn’t have money for cab. He was arrested because he didn’t show up on his court date. If the judge decides to let him off because he didn’t have transportation, that’s one thing–but then he wasn’t arrested for his lack of transportation. He was arrested because he was a defendant or a witness who agreed to show up on such and such a date–and broke his agreement.

        1. Compelling people to come to court–either as a defendant or as a witness–is one of them. Yeah, I’d think that if people are entitled to anything from government, it’s free transportation when they’ve been compelled to appear in court. But that’s not what’s going on here.

          Seems like, even in olden days, personal appearance wouldn’t be necessary. I agree that they need to present or identify themselves and/or testify, but the necessity of face-to-face is a bit contrived.

          This still doesn’t excuse or address his having broken the agreement. Even if the cops showed up to offer him a free ride, he could’ve skipped town or otherwise missed his free ride.

        2. There is only one thing necessary for proper justice. It’s called making the victim whole. That can happen without compelling people to come to court.
          A “Judge” is thug #1 who threatens you with violence so you will associate with him. A “police officer” is thug #2 who carries out the threat of thug #1. Yet, some people pretend to have a problem with gang rape.

        3. Too bad we can’t be all be millionaires with a team of high priced lawyers so we don’t ever have to show up to court for crimes thousands times worse than the poor fellow supposedly committed. Municipalities achieve revenue enhancement by criminalizing the poor.

      2. Because the cops aren’t a taxpayer subsidized taxi service?

        If you have no way to get to court, you should avoid doing things that require you to go to court.

  4. By the end of the day, 28 low-level offenders were released.

    SOFT ON CRIME

  5. One man was arrested because he didn’t have enough bus fare to make his court date.

    So he isn’t a low level offender; he is an innocent man awaiting trial.
    You can’t be an offender at any level until after a conviction.

    1. So he isn’t a low level offender; he is an innocent man awaiting trial.
      You can’t be an offender at any level until after a conviction.

      Sure. And jails are full of lots of innocent men, some of them with their victims’ blood on their hands, who just happened to be witnessed committing crimes and/or apprehended at the scene by police.

  6. >>By the end of the day, 28 low-level offenders were released.

    tell me they were tested first.

  7. The Cuyahoga county prison system, Cleveland police, has a long history. Much of it not pretty.

    Last I heard the local judges are asked to keep people accused of non violent, non sexual misdemeanors out of jail. I can report that local cops are just watching out for what needs attention.

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