Chicago Lawyer Protects Inmates From Coronavirus Spread

Chicago Lawyer Protects Inmates From Coronavirus Spread

The COVID-19 pandemic that hit our world early in 2020 has affected everyone in some way or another. As of May 2020, there have been more than 1.7 million confirmed cases of the virus in the United States alone. Coronavirus is thought to be spread primarily from person-to-person through droplets produced in the respiratory system. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, these droplets are then spread through the air to others in close proximity. 

While many are personally dealing with the financial and emotional impacts of the virus as it spreads, The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is continuously working on a government-led response to the pandemic. However, certain groups are not being protected and fear for their own health. For one, many people who are being held in jails awaiting their trials cannot afford their bail payments. Being behind bars, these prisoners are in close contact with their fellow inmates and do not have access to the same safety precautions and healthcare as those quarantined at home.

Across metropolitan Chicago, over a thousand prisoners and jail staff have come in contact with the COVID-19 outbreak and have fallen ill over the past few months. Many detainees have been scared for their safety due to pre-existing health conditions that give them a higher chance of contracting the virus. One Chicago-based attorney, in particular, decided to take matters into her own hands. Cierra Norris, a young lawyer practicing in Cook County, has single-handedly freed a dozen inmates from local jails in the Chicagoland area. Norris was able to convince judges from multiple counties that the risk of COVID-19 spreading in jails was too high and successfully gained provisional freedom for numerous detainees.

On March 22, 2020, the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the Cook County Jail was announced. Norris wasted no time jumping to action. In an interview with ABC, Norris stated, “We never stopped going to court even when they shut court down. We got seven people out that first week.” She looked at these people for who they truly are: humans. “Sometimes it’s easy to forget that when you have this idea of oh, we’re releasing all these criminals. No we’re not,” Norris said. “We’re releasing uncles and brothers and sisters, who are cloaked in a presumption of innocence and if it was anybody else’s nephew, or son or daughter, they would want them home.”

Norris’ clients that she was able to temporarily release from jail are being monitored through electronic tracking devices attached to their bodies. They are still being held responsible for their crimes and await their sentencing once the courts resume trials. However, now they are in the safety of their own home rather than behind bars. Norris has no intention of slowing down and will continue to use her voice to fight for the health of convicts awaiting trial.

If you or a loved one has been injured due to improper handling of the coronavirus pandemic, a personal injury or wrongful death lawyer in Cleveland, OH can help. Contact a law firm today.

Thanks to Mishkind Kulwicki Law Co. for their insight into medical malpractice and coronavirus in detention centers.