COVID-19 Emergency Response: Prosecutors

Prosecutors should take the following actions to end the spread of COVID-19 within their communities while there is a pandemic:

  • Change case intake practices to account for COVID-19 risk, including practices meant to reduce spreading of COVID-19,  including: 
    • Decline criminal charges whenever possible and divert to public health, community, and civil court solutions with return date 6 months out.
    • For charges not declined, reduce as many as possible to citations or non-warrant, non-arrest charges, and make return date 6 months out. 
  • Agree to the release of people from custody without bail or in-person check in with pretrial services.
  • Refuse to ask the court to issue “failure to appear” warrants or, “bench warrants” and agree to jointly waive the appearance of people who are out-of-custody.
  • Work with defense attorneys and courts to ensure that people in custody receive a constitutionally-mandated speedy trial.
  • Default to noncustodial sentences wherever possible, including resolutions that avoid immigration detention where outbreak potential is highest.
  • Direct any failures to comply with local quarantine orders to the civil court system, not the criminal court system.
  • Provide a public health/COVID-19-informed justification for any actions/requests that would bring folks into courthouses, jails, and prisons. Ensure those justifications are on the record for public scrutiny.
  • Extend paid sick leave to all employees, including those with temporary/part-time employment status.

Download the PDF: