Maryland Public Defenders Respond to COVID-19

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Release Date: 
Friday, April 24, 2020

The Maryland Office of the Public Defender has stepped up to fight for their clients’ releases in light of COVID-19. The fight for health and safety does not end when clients are released however; clients of the public defender need support to ensure that they can safely socially distance and meet basic needs. Read on to see how the Maryland Office of the Public Defender is utilizing VISTA to ramp up pre-trial supports. 

In Baltimore, Maryland, Lizzie was already building pre-trial resources and reentry services before COVID-19 altered everyone’s routine. In light of the pandemic crisis, these supports had to increase to protect the most vulnerable. 

Attorneys in the Maryland office have concentrated efforts to argue for release of clients from incarceration due to COVID-19 concerns while Lizzie maintains records of all arguments for early release to produce an analysis of what arguments are successful. This analysis allows attorneys to quickly see patterns and adjust strategy. 

The Baltimore office does not stop tracking and assisting clients after release. Lizzie and her colleague have created a simple referral form for attorneys when a client is released. Using this referral, they call all clients to talk about COVID-19 precautions and refer them to critical services. Lizzie and her team continue to follow up with clients and input referral data into a database to track who utilized services. This system of warm hand offs is only possible because of Lizzie and OPD’s continual partnership building and consistent client follow up.