(ONTARIO) – The Province of Ontario is set to release a number of low-risk criminals early in order to reduce the impact of the dreaded Coronavirus COVID-19 on the jail system.
Criminals nearing the end of their jail term will be eligible for an early release. Inmates serving weekends have been released and will not have to return on weekends during the pandemic.
Inmates who are behind bars on more serious offences such as violent crimes or criminal matters involving guns are expected to serve their full sentence.
Parole hearings through written or electronic methods will be held.
Visiting hours are also suspended during the Coronavirus COVID-19.
The virus scare has also halted all criminal and family trials. Jury trials are also being postponed during the public health crisis.
Unless a Judge orders otherwise, all preliminary inquiries and trials are on hold until June.
Judges, Justice of the Peaces, Crown Prosecutors and other court staff will still be working to handle routine matters such as bail, remands and plea court for people in custody.
Video court will be used as much as possible when handling these matters to reduce the potential impact of the Coronavirus COVID-19.
Legal Aid announced that their lawyers, which offer free legal services to low income people will not be working in Ontario courtrooms indefinitely due to Coronavirus COVID-19 concerns.
Volunteer criminal defence lawyers with the Criminal Lawyers’ Association will be in courtrooms until Friday, when they will also cease their work in order to protect their safety and the publics safety as well.
A number of Crown Attorney’s are expected to follow suit.
The Ontario Superior Court of Justice is winding down its operations and will only deal with matters of an urgent nature as of this week.