Today, Erie County Legislator Howard Johnson submitted a letter to Erie County District Attorney John Flynn asking him to consider recommending the release of non-dangerous prisoners from custody without a bail application being filed by their legal counsel in order to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and help reduce risk for all residents of our community.
Yesterday, it was reported that the District Attorney’s Office is allowing defendants who are being held pretrial to submit a bail application. These applications are reviewed by the District Attorney’s Office on a case by case basis. If the applications are approved, the detainees are released. If the application is denied by the DA, detainees can ask that a judge hears their case.
“I applaud the District Attorney for taking these steps,” said Erie County Legislator Howard Johnson. “At the same time, I am urging you to consider further protective measures to help reduce the risk to detainees, who have not been convicted of any crime, and staff alike in the Sheriff’s Jail Management Division. I do not make this suggestion lightly; as a crime victim myself, I know all too well the fears and concerns that crime victims have about their perpetrators. However due to the serious risks and nature of COVID-19, it seems reasonable that additional proactive steps can be taken for non-dangerous detainees.”
Media reports have indicated that two Deputy Officers in the Erie County Sheriff’s Office, Division of Jail Management have tested positive for COVID-19 and 13-14 deputies at the Holding Center were directed to remain at home because they had close contact with that deputy. Meanwhile, two inmates who were in contact with the deputy have been placed in a unit with eight other inmates who either have reported Covid-19 symptoms or need to be monitored and visits to inmates from outsiders have been halted. At the same time, responding to the COVID-19 crisis, the Eighth Judicial District has adjourned or postponed all criminal court matters and traffic cases for 45 days for all courts in Western New York.