We are seeing the goodness of people when it matters most.
Covid-19 is changing, an least temporarily, the dynamic of police and prosecutors against defendants and defense attorneys – for once we are all together saying incarceration for the non-violent is not the answer – at least not at this time. During recent weeks, many police departments have declined to incarcerate after arrest many individuals arrested for misdemeanors. Signature bond bails are being set with distant court dates. Non-violent Huber inmates in some counties are being sent home under various conditions, some with a Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor (SCRAM). The effort is hampered by what is now a shortage of SCRAMs, but many counties are being proactive in renting more from suppliers. Pre-conviction monitoring agencies, such as Wisconsin Community Services, Inc. (WCS) and JusticePoint are being asked to use their SCRAMs to reduce jail populations of pre-conviction and post-conviction non-violent inmates. WCS is Waukesha is still requiring pre-conviction clients to appear in person once per week for downloading and other testing.
In the state prison system, the great safety valve against lengthy imprisonment for felony operating under the influence, the Earned Release Program, continues to operate. A program director advises me today that sessions are shorter and groups are smaller but no delay for inmates for the anticipated successful completion of the program followed by release to Extended Supervision within no more than 30 days after completion. The DOC gets credit for being flexible, with understandable lack of complete transparency as new factors arise. Let’s hope they find acceptable ways to rapidly decrease the state prison population.