The coronavirus is no joke. Sure, most of us are hunkered down in our homes unless we’re an essential healthcare or delivery worker. Sure, the rest of us free people are realizing there are few places to go to even if we’re willing to leave home. Don’t tell your fears to celebrity criminals, though. Many former white-collar criminals are being released from prison solely due to the danger of COVID-19 contagion.

According to the publication, Reason, many well-known convicts are being released from prison – provided they’re nonviolent offenders. Prisons are being forced to release criminals because of overcrowding, which can spread the disease and because of inadequate healthcare treatment options.

Some of the notables who have been released include several political figures and one who just recently made national headlines.

  • Michael Avenatti. He was temporarily released even though he was charged with “embezzling $300,000 from porn-star-turned-alleged-Trump-mistress Stormy Daniels and extorting $20 million from Nike.”
  • Tom Noe. This Ohio Republican was sentenced to 18 years for stealing “13 million from a rare coin fund and illegally funneling money to George W. Bush’s reelection campaign.”
  • Ray Nagin. A former Mayor from New Orleans whose “non-violent” crimes involved tax evasion, bribery, and fraud, resulting in a 10-year corruption charge sentence.

Fairness dictates that non-violent drug offenders should be released during the COVID-19 pandemic

These releases beg the question of the priorities of various prisons throughout the country.

  • Which prisoners should be released first?
  • Should financial crimes be treated differently than drug crimes?
  • Should people with shorter sentences be released before people with longer sentences.?
  • Should celebrities be judged by how famous or notorious they are?
  • Why shouldn’t non-violent drug offenders be released too?

I mean, if Michael Avenatti gets to leave prison, why can’t the neighborhood weed hookup guy get out, too?

According to Reason, the Prison Policy Initiative released its yearly report of the 2.3 million in prison. The report found that a “disturbingly” high number of prisons in both federal and state facilities had been convicted for drug offenses.

  • Federally, there are 78,000 people in prison for drug offenses and 13,000 for violent crimes
  • At the state level, there are more violent offenders than drug offenders: 191,000 offenders committed drug offense; 45,000 of those people only committed possession of drug offenses.
  • In local jails, there are 37,000 drug crime offenders as compared to 34,000 violent crime offenders. Many people in local jails haven’t even had their day in court yet.

Many non-violent drug offenders need treatment, not prison-time. Many drug-offenders, unlike the celebrity criminals, only hurt themselves.

At Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law, our Annapolis and Ellicott City criminal defense lawyers are keeping current with the governmental orders and regulations that affect the criminal justice system. We work to have clients released from bail, released due to overcrowding, and released on probation or parole. We also fight to obtain acquittals and dismissals of criminal charges. For help with all aspects of a criminal case, call us at 410.777.8103, or fill out our contact form – to schedule a consultation.

And remember: Keep Calm – and Call Drew.