Justice in the Time of COVID-19: Strategic Responses

3 p.m., Thursday, April 9, 2020

An online panel discussion about COVID-19’s impact on the criminal justice system by AEquitas, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C., focused on developing, evaluating and refining prosecution practices related to gender-based violence and human trafficking.

Social distancing and quarantine measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic have affected all aspects of our society, including the judicial system.

While these public health measures are necessary to keep our communities safe and healthy, court closures and subsequent delays in case processing, as well as other social distancing measures, will require criminal justice professionals to adapt in order to continue holding offenders accountable while protecting their rights; meeting victim/witness needs; and maintaining public safety. 

Justice system delays and diluted staff capacities will also impact the criminal justice response to sexual violence, intimate partner violence, stalking, human trafficking, and other violent offenses, as prosecutors and allied professionals will face unique challenges in thoroughly investigating these crimes and responding to the needs of victims.

This panel discussion, featuring Nancy O’Malley, District Attorney of Alameda County, CA; Ed McCann, First Assistant District Attorney of Montgomery County, PA; and Sherry Boston, District Attorney of DeKalb County, GA; as well as AEquitas Attorney Advisors, will provide practical perspectives to help guide prosecutors and other criminal justice system actors through the broad scope of issues raised by COVID-19; current responses from prosecutor’s offices around the country; and logistical and legal strategies for ensuring justice while social distancing measures remain in place.

Topics will include (but aren’t limited to) implications on constitutional and statutory rights; challenges in processing, collecting, and testing crucial evidence; jail overcrowding and requests for bail; the continuity of victim/witness services; and special considerations in the investigation and prosecution of gender-based violence and human trafficking.

This panel is supported by Grant No. 2017-TA-AX-K043 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed during this panel are those of the panelists and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.

Sign up to attend the panel discussion HERE.

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