The Release of Medically Vulnerable Prisoners

Announcer: It’s Quinn and Cantara on PYX 106.

Quinn: It’s Quinn and Cantara on PYX 106. 1-800-law1010. My buddy Paul Harding on the phone from Martin, Harding & Mazzotti.

Cantara: Morning, Paul.

Paul: Good morning.

Cantara: You ever do time in prison, Paul?

Paul: I have not but I’ve had dreams of that, you know? You watch a movie all of a sudden, you’re…yeah. No, I haven’t.

Cantara: Well, Paul’s here because we saw this story the other day. Advocates are calling for the release for medically vulnerable prisoners. When I say advocates, it’s defense attorneys and advocates, right Paul?

Paul: Sure is, yeah. We got The Legal Aid Society who’s probably the main charging force behind this but lots of defense attorneys who, looking really around the world, what we’re seeing is it’s happening more in South America, in China, they’re letting prisoners out and we’re little less ready to do that. And that’s becoming an issue.

Cantara: Listen to this example. This is from the TU the other day. The guy’s 50 years old…

Quinn: One year left.

Cantara: …suffers from asthma, hypertension, heart disease. Has one year left like Quinn said, on a prison sentence for selling $25 of crack cocaine.

Quinn: A guy like that gets a [inaudible 00:01:11] for 25 bucks in cocaine. Come on.

Cantara: Does the governor have to jump in here and do this in one fell swoop or does it go before a judge or anything?

Paul: Well, they can do a case-by-case, but they don’t really have time for that. I think what they’re looking at right now is taking a bunch of folks who fit into usually the non-violent felony crowd or people that just have weeks or months to go on their sentence. They’re gonna get out anyway. And just kinda get them out quicker. So, that would be more of a fell swoop, you know? Just kinda round up several thousand people and then get them somewhere. And the question is where do they go, right? So, they’re gonna home and maybe gotta make sure they don’t have the virus when they leave. Very complicated.

Quinn: Cantara, didn’t we read a story about a guy, like they released him or something? He wasn’t a murderer but then he ended up killing somebody? He was like…

Cantara: Yeah, the next day.

Quinn: Literally, like the next day.

Cantara: You only hear…like you hear the most negative stories in the news. I don’t advocate for the release of prisoners who don’t do their time.

Quinn: I just hope there’s a plan.

Cantara: This $25 from selling crack cocaine.

Quinn: You don’t just don’t put them on the street and say, “Hope you got a ride and a Buick out front,” kinda thing, you know, help them out.

Cantara: Michael Cohen got out. Michael Cohen got out.

Paul: Michael.

Quinn: I’m sure he had people though.

Cantara: So, what’s the rate of success on something like this, Paul?

Paul: Well, we don’t know. It’s sort of unprecedented. They haven’t really opened up the prisons like this, you know? The Federal Government came out and said, “Hey, non-violent felons really were released,” but you got more of that white-collar crime thing going on in the Federal system, so it was sort of ear-marked for that a little bit easier, you know? In the state prison system, you know, most of the folks in there [inaudible 00:02:50] drugs but most of them do fall into that violent felony piece. So, I think at this point, we’re just gonna probably have people…they’re gonna do it because there’s been over a thousand staff members at the facilities and two deaths from COVID-19. So, we are, you know, trying to protect the folks who work there, you know, people don’t wanna go in.

Quinn: I love how they’re trying to make the same rules that were made to apply to like a white-collar situation, where the guy may have…he may have bankrupted your nana for $900,000 and killed her but same thing as $25 in crack to those people. It drives me nuts.

Cantara: Class war.

Paul: [inaudible 00:03:26].

Cantara: So, Paul, do you think that we come through on the other side of this virus that the prison system will have to change and adapt?

Paul: Well, you know, again, we are the…I think 2.3 million folks who are in prison, which is the highest percentage of any population in the country, right? So, we just put people in prison is what we do. So, are they now gonna change that? Probably not. Build more prisons? There’s no money left, right? We come out of this, the economic fallout is gonna be far and wide. So, what I see happening is procedures being a little bit different, cleaning a little bit different but I just see it probably just going real quiet and no longer being a news item but probably over the next month, or two or three, this is where the virus is gonna ravage. We’re gonna see it in the prison.

Quinn: We’re gonna score ourselves right up to [inaudible 00:04:14] immunity and we’ll be done with it. That’s how it’s gonna happen. We don’t have time to get it right before that.

Cantara: Paul, where’s your office on opening up? Are you even thinking about it?

Paul: Well, you know, when we get the green light to do it, you know, we’re open, working remotely, and we’re sort of kinda liking it. I can see some people going, “Hey, this could be kinda permanent.” And I’m like, “Well, maybe but no.”

Cantara: Think of the office space. You can downsize, Paul. You can get a tiny house.

Quinn: That’s why your name’s on the marquee, Paul.

Paul: Yeah, make some enemies. But I think what we’re gonna see is that when they say, “Open up,” we don’t have to just jump in and open back up. We’re probably gonna do it a little bit slower than need be. But kinda hoping that, you know, as summer progresses that we’re operating just the way we were two months ago.

Quinn: If my wedding were this week, this summer, would you still go to my wedding like you did years ago, Paul?

Cantara: No, Paul and I couldn’t go.

Paul: Socially distance. No.

Quinn: I wouldn’t go either, frankly.

Paul: It depends. Of course, your wedding was outside, right?

Quinn: That’s true.

Paul: [inaudible 00:05:20] a lot of it was outside, fun and other than that thunderstorm, one of the scariest thunderstorms I ever remember happening…

Quinn: I forgot about that.

Cantara: That was nuts, right? Tons of lightning.

Quinn: Sounds like we’ll see you on Zoom then I guess, Paul. We’ll see you on the Zooms.

Paul: That’s how we’ll do it.

Cantara: Thanks for the time this morning, Paul. Be safe out there.

Quinn: See you, buddy.

Paul: All right. See you guys.

Quinn: Paul Harding. Martin, Harding & Mazzotti. 1-800-law1010.