"The DA's policy instructing his prosecutors to argue that coronavirus is a reason to keep people in jail is inhumane and barbaric. As this sobering crisis demands cooperation and thoughtfulness from all levels of government, this DA is using it as a strategy to keep poor nonviolent offenders in jail.
There is no playbook on this crisis, but our healthcare experts and leadership from all levels have demanded social distancing in the interest of public safety. Keeping masses of low-level, nonviolent offenders incarcerated because they are too poor to pay 'money bail' will surely exacerbate the spread of this virus. The DA's irresponsible position also ignores the Sheriff employees working to prevent a breeding ground for the virus. In fact, the DA is increasing the chances of these employees being exposed to the virus and carrying it back to their families.
Jail is temporary detention for pre-trial offenders who are presumed innocent. It is unconscionable to exploit this already marginalized population in a way that may have fatal consequences without ever consulting healthcare or infectious disease experts. This is not the moment to set a precedent based on his own personal yet misguided fears. Years of wrong-headed thinking may have convinced the DA that he is protecting the public. In actuality, he is putting the city of New Orleans at greater risk.
We've asked public-serving organizations in all sectors to do their part in flattening out the curve in New Orleans. I expect no different from our local prosecutor's office."
Keith D. Lampkin
Jason Roger Williams, Council-At-Large