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April 14, 2020

"Documenting the Challenges (and Documents) as Ohio Courts Respond to COVID-19"

The title of this post is the title of this new short report posted to SSRN produced by folks (including me) at the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.  The report is focused on general court orders, but it highlights how these orders mostly fail to focus on reducing incarcerated populations at the time of a pandemic.  Here is the abstract:

As the coronavirus led to the vast majority of Americans living under stay-at-home orders, government institutions confronted a public health imperative to slow the spread of a communicable disease while still maintaining vital services for their constituents.  Judicial branches of governments faced particular challenges given the traditional face-to-face and often time-sensitive nature of their work.  Further, while governors can generally exercise centralized control over many parts of the executive branch of government, the judicial function in many states does not operate under a single chief administrator.  Ohio represents one such non-unified court system, and this research project sought to review and summarize the formal responses of Ohio courts in the weeks during which the state began shutting down non-essential services in response to the COVID pandemic.  This review reveals considerable formal action in service of minimizing physical appearances at court, but also highlights that relatively few court orders included express provisions aimed at decreasing the number of people entering prisons or authorizing proactive steps to release people from detention.

April 14, 2020 at 09:58 AM | Permalink

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