As public institutions and access points for public services, courthouses are busy public spaces that tend to attract large gatherings and make social distancing impractical. To mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in these institutions, many counties have drastically reduced non-essential court activities and implemented video and telephone conferencing for critical cases. Some counties are extending the deadline to pay justice fines and fees due to the economic impact of the outbreak and to reduce exposure to the virus by paying in person. Counties are also ramping up case processing, adjusting financial bail requirements and holding special hearings in order to release more individuals from jail who are awaiting trial.
Addressing the health and safety of justice-involved individuals and county staff in county courts will remain a critical component to mitigating the short- and long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In times of crisis, counties remain at the forefront of addressing pivotal challenges that affect justice and public safety in communities across the country. As the outbreak unfolds, it is important that counties continue to serve as resources for one another.