Incarcerated individuals, worried about contracting the disease in prison without adequate healthcare and often serious health risks, have filed lawsuits challenging their incarceration in the age of COVID-19. Overall, very few have been successful. This virus has changed our world and the reality for those in prison. The traditional legal avenues available to incarcerated individuals to challenge their continued confinement are often ill-equipped to allow for comprehensive and expedited review. The author argues that during these unprecedented times, courts should recognize that the “duty to defend the Constitution” requires them to grant motions for habeas corpus by the most vulnerable prisoners—those who are elderly or suffer from certain medical preexisting conditions—and that “a public health emergency does not absolve [courts] of that responsibility.” To the contrary, the pandemic has underscored the necessity of courts to step into and embrace their roles as protectors of those who are currently unconstitutionally incarcerated.
Allison Wexler Weiss,
Habeas Corpus, Conditions of Confinement, and COVID-19,
27 Wash. & Lee J. Civ. Rts. & Soc. Just. 131
Available at: https://scholarlycommons.law.wlu.edu/crsj/vol27/iss1/5