The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has compromised the lifestyles of all walks of life. One such population that is overlooked during these trying times are the incarcerated. A recent op-ed from Dr. Amanda Klonsky in the New York Times has brought national attention to this issue. To gain insight into how the incarcerated are dealing with the effects in the state of Michigan and for potential solutions, we spoke to three of the top criminal defense lawyers in our state.
Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates. Grabel’s firm is known as the top criminal defense team in the state of Michigan. When asked about how COVID-19 is affecting the incarcerated, Grabel said, “A lot of our practice is based on appeals. Our appellate team has a new option to advocate for those that are incarcerated. The health of those housed at the Michigan Department of Corrections comes at the center of concern right now. As criminal lawyers, this has become a time when criminal evaluations and criminal appeals will reach historic highs.”
William Amadeo is a partner at McManus and Amadeo in Ann Arbor, Michigan and a Senior Associate at Grabel and Associates. Amadeo is known as the top criminal defense attorney in Washtenaw County, Michigan and gave his thoughts on the issue when he said, “The time to work as a team is before us. The elderly and the young at the Michigan Department of Corrections have very different needs and it is easy for those housed in our jails and prisons to be overlooked. Dr. Amanda Klonsky leads a prison education organization and her analysis should carry a lot of weight. Arianne Slay is a candidate for Washtenaw County Prosecutor and she has a platform that speaks of “Restorative Justice” which is central our state’s future and this issue. The words of Prosecutor Slay and Dr. Amanda Klonsky ring very true during these trying times.”
Ravi Gurumurthy is one of the top criminal lawyers in the northern part of Michigan and a Senior Associate for Grabel and Associates. Gurumurthy said, “I think the concept of “Restorative Justice” that Arianne Slay speaks of is something that the rest of Michigan really needs to look at and follow her lead. Right now, it is difficult for a criminal defense lawyer to visit an in-custody defendant and our jobs are centered around remote advocacy. In addition to the scare of COVID-19, the constitutional rights of those in prison or in jail awaiting a trial are being compromised. We need to work together to find solutions for all involved.”
The issue of alternatives to incarceration, the theory of restorative justice and the future of the incarcerated in our state is at an impasse. These are times when prison may not be the answer and unity from all sides of our criminal justice system should be working together.