Is someone you know or love currently in a Jacksonville area jail? If so, they may be eligible for immediate resolution of their case and release from the jail due to the coronavirus. And, even if their case can’t quickly be resolved, they may be eligible for an ROR bond or other nonmonetary conditions of release so they can be immediately released from jail.
On March 20, 2020, the Office of the State Attorney for the Fourth Judicial Circuit, encompassing Nassau, Clay and Duval counties issued a memorandum acknowledging its responsibility to assist with containing the spread of the coronavirus to its staff, corrections officers, civilian jail employees, court staff and the overall inmate jail population in those counties. The State Attorney recognized “[e]very individual, business, and public agency has a duty to help flatten the curve of this pandemic’s growth. Criminal justice agencies are no exception.” Critically, the State Attorney announced to limit the spread of the virus it was temporarily implementing strategies “[t]o safely reduce the jail population, which from a public health perspective, includes some of the most at-risk individuals in our community.”
Therefore, effective immediately, and continuing for an as yet unspecified time, the State Attorney has implemented the following new policies and procedures in criminal cases pending in the Fourth Judicial Circuit. First, the State has implemented an expedited case resolution procedure for inmates currently serving their sentence in jail for non-violent misdemeanors or felonies. For those inmates, a review will be conducted to determine whether they present a danger to the community. If they do not, then absent objection of any victims, those inmates are eligible for a time served or probation sentence and immediate release from the jail.
Secondly, the State Attorney has temporarily modified its first appearance procedures. In this regard it has instructed its attorneys to resolve as many cases as possible at first appearance to prevent an increase in the jail population. For those inmates with non-violent charges not resolved at first appearance, the State Attorney will support them being immediately released on ROR bonds or with other nonmonetary conditions provided they are not a flight risk and they don’t present a danger to the community. Inmates over 60 or those with health issues rendering them especially vulnerable to infection will also be immediately eligible for nonmonetary conditions of release.
Third, to reduce the jail population and caseloads, the State has instructed its attorneys to “[a]void the filing of marginal cases involving non-violent misdemeanors and felonies.” This means if it’s unclear whether you actually committed a crime or if your conduct was minimal, you may be able to avoid having any charges filed against you, resulting in your case being dropped.
Finally, for inmates with bonds currently incarcerated but whose cases cannot be resolved for whatever reason, the State will support them being immediately released on ROR bonds or other nonmonetary conditions as appropriate.
The State Attorney has implemented these extraordinary procedures to protect people from potential exposure to the coronavirus from the roughly 3,000 inmates currently held in close quarters in the local jails. But, these emergency procedures are temporary and will only be in place for a short time. If you are concerned about your or a loved one’s exposure to the coronavirus in a local jail, call me now for a free consultation to discuss how I can best help protect you or them.