In a move to prevent the spread of the deadly Ebola virus into prison facilities around the country, the Chief Justice Tuesday, August 5, began holding consultative meetings with judicial actors to find a way to temporarily release people from jail on bond.
Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor named pretrial detainees (people in jail and not yet sent to court) and convicted prisoners that would not pose any danger to themselves or the society as beneficiaries of the bond initiative.
But the Chief Justice was quick to point out that the initiative would be done in line with the laws of the land.
“We have to act now or else, if the Ebola virus were to enter our congested cells, I fear that we would be losing hundreds of lives. But we need to take into consideration the laws,” the Supreme Court boss stated.
According to him, he and his judicial colleagues have met with the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA), Circuit Court Judges and Magistrates in that direction.
“We will be meeting with the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), lawyers and family members of those in prisons, so that we may together discuss the release of their detained relatives on bond,” Chief Justice Korkpor added.
He continued, “We will only be releasing them into the care of prominent individuals or their lawyers, who would make sure they return whenever they are needed by the court.”
“These are measures that we are putting into place to help save our people in jail from being victims of the deadly virus,” Chief Justice Korkpor reiterated.
“If we allow people to die from Ebola in prison, then who are we going to prosecute? The dead or those that are alive in jail?” he asked.
Cautioning people against handling of the rapid spread of the virus, the Chief Justice said, “We have to handle this deadly disease with care. We need to do everything humanly possible to help protect the lives of our people.”
“The protection of our people against the spread of the disease is my greatest worry.
This is the period that we, leaders, need to do so much to protect our people,” Chief Justice Korkpor averred.
Another issue, the Chief Justice dealt with was that of the jury selection process.
According to him, the laws give the right to a person accused of committing a crime to decide whether he wants the jury to hear his case or only a judge.
The Chief Justice said he and his colleagues were considering a temporary suspension of the jury selection process.
“For now we will want only judges to hear cases and not jury. This is to prevent the over crowdedness of the courtroom.”
“You know that the Ebola virus can spread faster, if people gathered together at a particular place; so we have to suspend jury congregating at our courts,” Chief Justice Korkpor further explained.