AUGUSTA (WGME) — There s a major backlog for the state’ s criminal justice system due to the pandemic and officials are taking a proactive approach to alleviate that.
“It’s a set of recommendations for everyone involved in the judicial system,” said Maeghan Maloney, district attorney for Kennebec and Somerset counties.
Maloney is leading the charge on the Criminal Justice Commission on Mitigation of Pandemic Impact. The goal is to keep the courts from being overwhelmed.
Maloney said the commission is focusing on five major points.
The first is finding enough judicial marshals once courts reopen.
“Not having enough judicial marshals is a real crisis for the court system and we talked about how that could be remedied,” she said.
The second is conducting more virtual hearings.
“The view is if we can go forward I want to go forward every single time because these cases need to be heard,” Maloney said.
The third is looking into unpaid fine warrants.
“One of the things we talked about as a group is when are those warrants supposed to be coming back into the system because of course, that’s going to be a big hit to the system,” she said.
The fourth is focusing on reactive policing, meaning officers only take action when they see an individual doing something dangerous.
And the last recommendation is diversion programs.
Augusta Police Chief Jared Mills said the focus is on the court system.
“We’re looking at creative ways to where in the past, we’ve just charged whatever the charge is and go another route with that if that makes sense,” Mills said.
However, that doesn’t mean people can get away with breaking the law, Mills said.
“People have asked, ‘So I can basically just drive and commit any infraction and police aren’t going to do anything or steal anything I want to steal?’ and that’s just not the case,” he said.