The Coronavirus (COVID-19) is having a profound effect on the criminal justice system across the country. A recent article by Samantha Melamed and Mike Newall of The Philadelphia Inquirer explained the concern of managing jail crowding and how the virus is causing concerns in the city.
To gain insight into how the Philadelphia mandate could affect the state of Michigan, we spoke to three of the top criminal defense lawyers in our state. The comments from these attorneys explained where the state of Michigan stands on this issue.
Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates in Lansing, Michigan. Grabel and Associates are known as the top criminal defense firm in our state and practice in every county across Michigan. Grabel provided commentary when he stated, “The article in the Philadelphia Inquirer hits very close to home. As someone that grew up in South Jersey and now lives and practice in the capital of Michigan, we see a lot of similarity in our criminal justice systems. The issue of overcrowding in our jails and the Michigan Department of Corrections is a tug of war between protecting inmates and society. This is a time for fair resolutions across the board. Our firm has not stopped working during this crisis, and we will all need to think outside of the box to protect our clients.”
William Amadeo is a partner at McManus and Amadeo in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and a Senior Associate for Grabel and Associates. Amadeo grew up in Atlantic City, New Jersey, which is 60 miles from Philadelphia and knows the area in detail. When asked about the issue in Philadelphia and how it translates to Michigan, Amadeo said, “We all a major problem right now. I used to work as a journalist for a Philadelphia website in 2010, and back then, the issue of an overcrowded jail population was a major issue. Since then, the crime rates have increased, and nobody expected the COVID-19 crisis. Philadelphia is a similar city to Detroit when we discuss the crime rate. While Detroit has more criminal activity than Philly, the overcrowded population and protection of society are a difficult encounter right now. I can tell you that Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw has done a great job during this crisis, and we should follow her lead.”
Joe Brugnoli is a Senior Associate for Grabel and Associates and one of the top criminal defense lawyers in Kent County. Michigan. When asked about the article in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Brugnoli stated, “As someone that has a history in law enforcement before becoming an attorney, I can see both sides of this issue. What is going on in Philadelphia is a blueprint for the direction that Michigan may head. If the officers and inmates become contagious, we will have bigger issues. Jury trials are in limbo at the moment. The overcrowding issue that Philadelphia is currently dealing with is a similar issue to what we are experiencing in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We all need to work to find solutions.”
While the police and government actors as a whole are faced with protecting the community, the jail and prison population may be our most vulnerable right now. With workers being exposed and inmates becoming sick, solutions need to come quickly.