US defence lawyers say ‘jails are ticking time bombs’, urge prisoners’ release amid virus fear
NEW YORK: Comparing crowded US jails to “ticking time bombs,” defence lawyers are urging law enforcement officials to release more defendants on bail while they await trial amid the coronavirus pandemic — an approach that has already been adopted by San Francisco and Philadelphia.
The Federal Defenders of New York — which represents defendants who cannot afford a lawyer — wrote in a letter on Sunday that prosecutors should not engage in “business as usual” when deciding whether to recommend jail for defendants awaiting trial.
“Absent extraordinary circumstances, namely cases that involve an imminent threat of violence, it does not advance public safety to add more people to our local jails,” the organization’s director, David Patton, wrote in the letter to federal judges and prosecutors in Manhattan and Brooklyn.
“I truly believe the jails are ticking time bombs,” Patton said.
Patton told Reuters on Monday that his office had filed several motions asking that incarcerated defendants be released because of the coronavirus. - Reuters