In a story that has gone viral on both Facebook and YouTube, there are accusations that inmates at the Wayne County Jail are not being treated for COVID-19. A Wayne County Jail spokesperson provided this comment that was posted on WXYZ: “Yes. We have five inmates in quarantine right now. Those who are showing symptoms we have a protocol where they are isolated for 72 hours. From there, they are sent to jail medical for further evaluation. All masks have been distributed to every inmate as of the day before yesterday.” The videos contradict what the spokesperson has said. Here are links to the Facebook video and to the news story that broke this morning.
We are left to ask if inmates in the Wayne County Jail are adequately tested, and what effect this could have on the state of Michigan? To gain a reaction to how this story and others like it could impact the criminal justice community, we spoke to several of the top criminal defense lawyers in the state of Michigan. Scott Grabel, William Amadeo, and Nancy Eaton-Gordon provided insight.
Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates, which is located in Lansing, Washtenaw, and Kent County, Michigan. Grabel and Associates are known as the top criminal defense firm in the state of Michigan and have many active cases in Wayne County. Scott Grabel responded to the story by saying, “Safety first. That has to be our priority right now. Wayne County is a tough place for our jailers, inmates, and our courts. The volume of cases in Wayne County rival any county in the country. We need to work together during this chaotic time.”
William Amadeo is a partner at McManus and Amadeo in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and a Senior Associate for Grabel and Associates covering Wayne County cases. Amadeo is known as one of the top defense attorneys in the Detroit area and provided commentary when he said, “The videos are concerning. We are going to need to rely upon and help Wayne County more than ever during COVID-19. Luckily there are leaders like Referee Nicholas Hathaway and Judge Ulysses Boykin that are working on solutions as we speak. Right now, prosecutors, defense lawyers, judges, and probation officers need to put differences aside and work as a team. The videos have shock value. In times of crisis such as these, our criminal justice system can either crumble or rise above this tragedy. Teamwork will be required for successful solutions.”
Nancy Eaton-Gordon is a partner at Jackson Eaton-Gordon and Associates in Lenawee, County, Michigan, and has a Wayne County docket. A top litigator that is known for proactive jail visits and outside of the box solutions, Eaton-Gordon gave her views on the story and videos. Eaton-Gordon said, “It’s a scary time. The legal community needs to figure out different solutions. We have seen riots at prisons in Kansas and other areas of our country. If the inmates are not receiving proper care, we better figure this out quickly. The inmates, the guards, the staff, and our courts could all be at risk if we do not act efficiently and quickly.”
With more stories developing, there is concern over our next steps. With avenues such as Facebook, YouTube, and the 24-hour news cycle, this is an issue that will be covered in greater detail during this state of emergency.