01
Apr

“Tough times never last, but tough people do.” – Robert H Schuller

As suspended visitation continues across the board for not only TDCJ but also FBOP, ICE and County Detention Centers, my clients are concerned about their loved ones, rescheduled ceremony dates and marriage licenses that may expire waiting on reschedules. Stay calm. This is temporary and put in place to prevent an outbreak.

For those of you who are booked clients, I’m offering to pay 1/2 the cost to replace your marriage license should it expire waiting on a reschedule. We will work through this together. You will get married eventually this virus and the ripple effects of state, federal and counties is put in place to prevent the spread of the virus.

I’ve had a few interviews with reporters the past two weeks regarding my thoughts about Rikers. Someone somewhere brought the virus into Rikers. It could have been Weinstein. It could have been someone else. We may never know. But we know this, Rikers has some of the most widespread virus numbers there are at a correctional facility. Louisiana, Washington, California and other states are behind but FBOP, TDCJ and other are keeping their numbers low and they are doing so by being cautious.

New York is leading the numbers and sadly there are a number of county detention centers releasing inmates “to prevent the spread of the virus.”

In Texas, an Executive Order halted the release of inmates. Dallas County is still releasing inmates. Dallas County has 17 cases of this virus.

While fear and anxiety regarding the future affect all of us in one way or another, my clients from Texas Twins Events and Belltower Chapel have also been forced to make changes to planned events too.

At the kickoff of wedding season and my busiest booking year yet, the virus has caused so much change to occur so fast that I’ve spent hours day and night talking to and counseling clients through extraordinary unique circumstances.

From canceled funerals to canceled weddings and baptisms as well as inmate wedding ceremonies being canceled, these changes and disappointments have affected all of my booked clients for March and April.

Moving canceled March bookings to April and possibly May at this point is a literal juggling act. I’m no longer traveling to California in May as previously planned due to the number of reschedules I have in Texas as this time. Currently, I plan to return to California in July but this is unconfirmed until my clients in California are taken care of. I appreciate your patience California Clients as we work through reschedules no one could have anticipated or predicted.

Regarding Texas TDCJ, FBOP, ICE and County Jail Clients in Texas, FBOP made an announcement yesterday that will give them 14 days to re evaluate.

During this window, they will monitor and isolate inmates to control the spread of this virus. There are very few FBOP cases in the United States.

(Inmate) 3/31/2020 – MDC Brooklyn; FCC Oakdale (7); USP Atlanta (2); MCC New York (3); FMC Butner (2); FCI Otisville; FCI Danbury; FCC Lompoc (3); FCI Elkton (2); USP Canaan, PA; RRC Phoenix, AZ; RRC Brooklyn, NY (4); RRC Janesville, WI. 

(Staff) 3/31/2020 –Grand Prairie, TX; Leavenworth, KS (no inmate contact); Yazoo, MS (2); Atlanta, GA (3); Danbury, CT; Butner, NC (2); Ray Brook, NY (2); New York, NY (5); Chicago, IL (2); Brooklyn, NY (4); Oakdale, LA (3); Lompoc, CA; Otisville, NY; Talladega, AL; Tucson, AZ.

In a statement to the AP, Bureau of Prisons Director Michael Carvajal said the agency has “thus far been fortunate in that our rate of COVID-19 infection is remarkably low.” 

The lockup in Oakdale accounts for five inmate cases. Only one other facility has as many cases, the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Prison advocates have been warning for weeks about the likelihood that COVID-19 will spread rapidly inside U.S. detention facilities.

The top doctor at Rikers Island said the coronavirus-hit New York jail is a “public health disaster unfolding before our eyes” as he warned of the rapidly rising number of infections in the city’s jails.

In just 12 days, Ross MacDonald, the jail’s chief physician, said confirmed cases at Rikers had soared from one to nearly 200.

He added: “This is not a generational public health crisis, rather it is a crisis of a magnitude no generation living today has ever seen.”

He warned that it is “unlikely” they will be able to stop the growth, predicting that 20% of those infected will need hospital treatment and 5% ventilators.

He also called for the release of “as many vulnerable people as possible”.

Immigrations and Customs Enforcement detainees must be immediately released from county jails where cases of novel coronavirus have been confirmed, a federal judge in New York ordered Thursday night.

The 10 detainees asked for their release “because of the public health crisis posed by COVID-19,” their petition said.

The men and women had been detained by federal immigration authorities and had removal proceedings pending in immigration court. They were being held at three jails in New Jersey where either detainees or staff had tested positive for coronavirus.

“Each Petitioner suffers from chronic medical conditions, and faces an imminent risk of death or serious injury in immigration detention if exposed to COVID-19,” the decision said.

Concerned that thousands of migrant children in federal detention facilities could be in danger of contracting the coronavirus, a federal judge in Los Angeles late on Saturday ordered the government to “make continuous efforts” to release them from custody.

The order from Judge Dolly M. Gee of the United States District Court came after plaintiffs in a long-running case over the detention of migrant children cited reports that four children being held at a federally licensed shelter in New York had tested positive for the virus.

“The threat of irreparable injury to their health and safety is palpable,” the plaintiffs’ lawyers said in their petition, which called for migrant children across the country to be released to outside sponsors within seven days, unless they represent a flight risk.

There are currently about 3,600 children in shelters around the United States operated under license by the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement, and about 3,300 more at three detention facilities for migrant children held in custody with their parents, operated by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

For the tens of thousands of kids locked up in juvenile detention centers and other correctional facilities across America, experts have issued a gloomy warning: The coronavirus is coming.

Already this week, Louisiana confirmed that a staff member and three children in state custody had contracted the virus, including one living in a group home in Baton Rouge. Delaware, Minnesota, New York, Texas and Connecticut are among the other states that have reported positive tests among youth or staff.

Worried about the virus spreading in crowded facilities, where kids have little access to masks and even hand sanitizer, more than 30 correctional administrators and rights advocates called Tuesday for the release of vulnerable youth and for the stoppage of all new admissions. They also want a clear safety plan for those who remain inside, including access to adequate protective measures and better contact with loved ones.

“Even though these kids are hidden from view, they are still part of our community and their health affects the health of all of us, as we affect them,” said Renee Slajda, of the nonprofit Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights. “Imagine what would happen if one school were allowed to stay open, even when students began testing positive for the virus. Hundreds of people would be exposed — the children, staff, and communities they go home to every night.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has moved to restrict the release of people in jail during the coronavirus pandemic — but Harris County’s misdemeanor judges aren’t abiding by his executive order. Instead, they’re following a federal court’s orders for their bail decisions.

And those tied to the court have again raised skepticism that Abbott’s order is even constitutional.

Instead of following Abbott’s recent executive order, a lawyer for the 16 criminal court judges that preside over low-level offenses in Texas’ largest county said in a Tuesday letter obtained by The Texas Tribune that the judges will continue to comply with practices solidified in a federal court agreement. That will allow for the automatic release of most misdemeanor defendants without collecting bail payment.

Before a lawsuit that spurred that agreement, the release of jail inmates accused of misdemeanors relied heavily on cash bail. Those practices were found unconstitutional in federal courts for discriminating against poor defendants, prompting a consent decree last year.

Now, many Harris County defendants are required to be released on no-cost, personal bonds, which can include conditions like drug tests and regular check-ins.

The number of detainees testing positive for coronavirus at the Cook County Jail in Chicago skyrocketed over the weekend, leaving Sheriff Tom Dart grabbling with a dilemma that runs against the very grain of a veteran lawman and former prosecutor: whether to free alleged criminals instead of keeping them locked up.

As of Tuesday afternoon, one of America’s largest single-site jails had 141 inmates who have tested positive for COVID-19, up from just 38 on Friday, Dart told ABC News. Of all the inmates tested so far only 11 were negative, he said.

“This is beyond complicated,” Dart said. “There was zero playbook for this stuff.”

The news of the death comes as coronavirus infections continue to climb in Orange County. 

The total number of cases in Orange County reached 502 on Tuesday. Seven people — three men and four women — have died of the virus. Four of those individuals were at least age 65, and one was between ages 45 and 64. One person who died was between 25 and 34 years old and another was between 35 and 44 years old, according to data from the Orange County Health Care Agency. 

As of Monday, nine people who had symptoms consistent with COVID-19 were being isolated in the jail. Five inmates have tested positive, and roughly 150 are being quarantined under observation, Sheriff Don Barnes said.

An inmate and four people who work in the Los Angeles County jails have tested positive for the coronavirus infection, heightening fears that the disease could spread quickly in the overcrowded jail system.

The inmate, who was at Twin Towers Correctional Facility, displayed symptoms Thursday and was moved to the jail’s Correctional Treatment Center for isolation, Correctional Health Director Jackie Clark said. His test came back positive over the weekend, and he is now at L.A. County-USC Medical Center. 

The inmate had been held in a one-man cell in a “high observation housing” area reserved for mentally ill inmates. About 16 others in that housing area were being quarantined, with staff monitoring them regularly with temperature checks, Clark said. She added that classes and therapy sessions for that group were halted about three weeks ago to minimize the risk of exposure. 

“We don’t have a huge concern for the 16 that’s in quarantine,” she said. Clark said it’s likely the inmate was exposed in the jail, where he’s been housed since about December. Officials are working to track his movements and determine exactly where he was exposed and by whom. 

 California plans to expedite the release of up to 3,500 inmates in the coming weeks to combat the spread of the coronavirus through its prison system.

The state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced the move Tuesday in a court filing asking federal judges not to intervene and order further inmate releases from California’s overcrowded prisons.

“We do not take these new measures lightly. Our first commitment at CDCR is ensuring safety — of our staff, of the incarcerated population, of others inside our institutions, and of the community at large,” Ralph Diaz, secretary for the corrections department, said in a statement. “However, in the face of a global pandemic, we must consider the risk of COVID-19 infection as a grave threat to safety, too.”

The California prison system is operating at more than 134% of its capacity, holding nearly 30,000 people more than it was designed for.

Amid fears that the coronavirus will carve a deadly path through prisons and jails, counties and states are releasing thousands of inmates — New Jersey alone began freeing hundreds of people this week — and the federal prison system is coming under intense pressure to take similar measures.

In Tulsa, Oklahoma, people who usually spend their days fighting with each other—public defenders and prosecutors—joined forces to get 75 people released from jail in a single day. And outside Oakland, California, jailers are turning to empty hotel rooms to make sure the people they let out have a place to go.

Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot told The Marshall Project he was frustrated about the slow pace of releases from the county’s jail, among the largest in the country. The jail population is now almost 1,000 over its typical average of 5,000.

All jury trials have been canceled, so Creuzot worried those numbers would swell. His office has been working with defense attorneys and judges to release eligible people on personal recognizance bonds, he said.

While other states hurriedly work to release inmates, this virus and the affects of jobs, inmates, correctional staff and my clients continues to change on a daily basis.

FBOP issued a statement to self isolate inmates for 14 days to prevent the spread of this virus within the Bureau Of Prisons.