The pandemic slowed the criminal justice system to a crawl in much of the U.S., and now an increase in violent crime is straining the system even further.
Why it matters: COVID-19 has caused backlogs in criminal cases across the U.S. to swell, forcing district attorneys to focus on the most violent offenses — and decline, delay or deal down a slew of other cases.
- “For the prosecution, the older a case gets, the tougher it gets to prove in a lot of cases,” said Billy West, president of the National District Attorneys Association and the D.A. for Cumberland County, N.C.
Details: Prosecutors in Chicago are pleading out or dismissing cases to help shrink the courts’ backlog. And in Oakland, Calif., they’ve had to dismiss old cases amid an uptick in violent crime, Alameda County District Attorney, Nancy O’Malley announced in June.
- The number of criminal cases pending before courts in Harris County, Texas, home to Houston, rests at more than 94,000. The Houston Chronicle reports it would take judges a year or more to clear its dockets.