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Criminal Justice Reforms Needed to Prioritize Health and Safety

Apr 8, 2020 by AFP

Grassroots group calls for targeted, tailored reforms to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on the criminal justice system

CHARLESTON, SC – With the criminal justice system under increasing strain from COVID-19, Americans for Prosperity-South Carolina (AFP-SC) today sent Governor McMaster policy recommendations that ensure incarcerated individuals have adequate protection from COVID-19 and help the criminal justice system mitigate the effects of this pandemic.

VIEW THE LETTER HERE

The policy recommendations include:

  • Use the governor’s commutation power to develop recommendations with prosecutors and the DOC to expedite hearings for certain vulnerable populations
  • Ensure jails are mitigating the risk of coronavirus
  • Socially isolate the sick in a manner that upholds dignity
  • Provide legal visitation alternatives to physical visitation
  • Reduce the use of jail or prison as a sanction for technical violations of supervision
  • Urge judges to waive or reduce fines, recognizing South Carolinians’ unforeseen financial circumstances

AFP-SC State Director, Andrew Yates, released the following statement:

COVID-19 is spreading like a match in a dry barn in many other state prisons and jails. South Carolina has an obligation to prevent this from happening in the Palmetto state and help incarcerated individuals eventually return to their families and communities. We’re urging Governor McMaster to work with officials throughout the state to ensure that all South Carolinians are protected from the spread of this pandemic.

“Mayors, governors, and other criminal justice actors have difficult decisions to make, but this health crisis demands that we do not needlessly send people to jail and prison when there is little to no benefit to public safety. It is imperative for health and safety of those incarcerated, law enforcement, and the public at large that South Carolina enacts targeted, smart-on-crime reforms that help prevent more people from being jeopardized by this public health crisis.”

Background:

Americans for Prosperity has signed onto the SAFER Plan, a plan developed among a broad, bipartisan coalition that intend to combat the effects from COVID-19. The group also commended President Trump for his response to COVID-19 in federal prisons and urged him to expand the use of home confinement for elderly incarcerated individuals.

As part of Second Chances Month, the grassroots group re-issued the call for lawmakers and justice system actors to work together and adopt recommendations which would guarantee that every American involved in the criminal justice system adequate protection from the spread of COVID-19.