COVID-19 Relief and the Ordinary Inmate
21 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2021
Date Written: September 6, 2021
As scholars and advocates have lamented the deficiencies of remedies pre- and post-conviction for the extraordinary, the “ordinary” are not saddled with slow and deficient remedies -- they have none. This Essay explores this absence of such relief for those unable to make an extraordinary claim during the COVID-19 public health crisis of 2020. For the ordinary men, women, and children held in custody in 2020 and beyond, pretrial detention and sentencing laws make no exception in the face of a potentially fatal contagion or the public health crisis it creates. Yet, the pandemic highlights the reality that systematic flaws -- carceral systems that permit mass infection within and outside their walls and release triggers premised on extraordinary circumstances or conditions -- are a sort of roulette of disaster for ordinary people in custody who lack access to pre- and post-conviction relief. As problematic as these flaws are, they also represent an opportunity to reconsider the priorities that animate such relief and to question (or reimagine) systems that rebalance those priorities not just around the lives of the extraordinary, but around the lives of the ordinary.
Keywords: COVID, jail, prison, post conviction procedure, post conviction relief
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