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Bail Modifications in the Wake of Global Pandemic – Covid 19 (Coronavirus)

Conditions of Confinement and Spread of Coronavirus

Bail is designed to ensure the future appearance of individuals facing criminal charges. Some of the considerations can be the type of charge (seriousness), risk of flight, familial connections in the area, employment, and future dangerousness. However, a new consideration based upon one’s age and predisposition to illness are also at the forefront of judges’ minds these days. Conditions of pretrial confinement create the ideal environment for the transmission of contagious disease. Inmates cycle in and out of detention facilities from all over the Commonwealth, nation, and world. People and caregivers that work in these facilities also return day in and day out without any screening. Also, medical care is oftentimes limited in a detention facility.

Many who are incarcerated may be over age 60, suffer from diabetes, HIV, emphysema, other respiratory diseases or acute illnesses, or are already infected with COVID-19. During the H1N1 pandemic in 2009, many jails and prisons dealt with a high rate of cases. Indeed– courts across Iran have granted 54,000 prisoners release based upon the spread of COVID-19 throughout prison populations.

What can be done?

Pretrial bail may be able to be lowered or modified if based upon the following conditions:

  1. The prisoner is over age 60; or
  2. They suffer from a pre-existing condition (high risk of infection based upon lowered immune system); or
  3. The conditions of bail could be subject to a change, such as electronic monitoring, based upon the factors considered by a judge when viewed in light of the COVID-19 Global Pandemic.

Contact Shaffer & Engle for a free consultation to determine if a bail modification may be suitable for your case or a loved one. (717) 545-3032; Or, contact us at