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Many jails and prisons across the country have now become coronavirus hotspots. For example, news reports about the infamous Rikers Island jail in New York estimate that 12 hundred inmates are infected and 10 have died. An estimated 800 correctional officers have been infected and of those 8 have passed. There are estimates that over 560 prisoners in federal custody have tested positive and 24 have died.
Social distancing in jail is impossible. So, across the country, large numbers of inmates are being released to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. Of course, there are also risks from releasing inmates. Some released prisoners have been rearrested for committed new crimes. What effect has releasing so many inmates had on jails and on courts? What effect has it had on our communities?
This week, we continue our weekly podcast series, “Coronavirus: How are Courts Coping with the Crisis,” in a conversation with our panelists. This episode explores jurisdictions that have reduced their jail populations and have adjusted their time payment plans to accommodate those at risk of contracting the coronavirus. We look at how the release decisions have been made, how judges and staff still working the courthouse are protecting themselves, and how our communities view these inmate releases.
This Week's Guest Panelists:
Angela S. VanSchoick is the Court Administrator with the Town of Breckenridge Municipal Court. She is a licensed macro level social worker in the State of Colorado and Michigan, receiving her MSW from the University of Michigan in 2007. Her focus was on Policy, Evaluation, Community Organization, and Community Social Systems, which has provided her with a solid background to assist her Court and with the Colorado Association for Municipal Court Administration.
Mark A. Weinberg is the Court Administrator for the Seventh Judicial Circuit in Daytona Beach, Florida. Prior to his current position, he was an administrator with the court in Maricopa County, Arizona. He holds a bachelor's degree in public administration from James Madison University and a master's degree in judicial administration from the University of Denver.
Richard J. Pierce is the Judicial Programs Administrator of the Judicial District Operations and Programs Department, at the Pennsylvania Administrative Office of the Courts. Prior to his current position, he was the district court administrator for Cumberland County. He graduated from Washington and Lee University, and received his Masters in Public Administration from Shippensburg University.
Elizabeth Rambo is the Trial Court Administrator for Lane County Circuit Court in Eugene, Oregon. She graduated with high scholarship from Oregon State University with a BA in history and has an MBA from Portland State University.
Michael Roddy is the Executive Officer of the Superior Court of San Diego County. Prior to his current position he served as the California Administrative Office of the Courts’Regional Administrative Director for the Northern/Central Region, and was Executive Officer of the Sacramento Superior Court.
Zenell Brown has garnered respect both as Executive Court Administrator for the Third Circuit Court in Detroit, Michigan, and for her ethical leadership and innovation. Zenell has a Juris Doctor from Wayne State University Law School, a Public Service Administration Graduate Certificate from Central Michigan University, a Court Administration Certificate from Michigan State University, and is a Certified Diversity Professional from National Diversity Council-DiversityFirst.
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