Coronavirus Already Affecting Criminal Justice System – Much More Severe Impact Expected


As the nation implements additional policies and practices to slow the spread of the coronavirus in an all-out attempt to “flatten the curve” of the disease, virtually every component of our criminal justice system is being affected.

Here’s a quick rundown of what’s going on out there.


RE: Courts

In Colorado, almost all jury trials in state courts have been postponed until April (The expectation is that this hiatus will be extended for at least another month).

In making the announcement, Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Coats wrote: “In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the continued spread of the virus throughout communities in Colorado, and in consideration of the obligation of the courts both to protect the constitutional rights and ensure the safety of the citizenry, the courts of this state can no longer continue normal operations and must for the immediate ensuing period operate on an emergency basis”.

Other states have implemented similar policies or are considering doing so.

But courts in some states are still operating as if nothing has changed.

It’s hard for me to understand how any courts are still operating – especially those that are involved in jury trials.

Just how the hell do you expect 12 people to sit shoulder-to-shoulder with one another for hours at a time – and to pay attention to what’s going on in the courtroom?

And just how long do you expect those same 12 jurors to hang out with one another in a relatively small jury room debating whether to convict someone (It would not surprise me at all if many of the guilty verdicts in such cases get overturned on appeal as defense attorneys argue that the jurors rushed to judgment so that they could get home).

Meanwhile, some federal courts are postponing trials – and/or otherwise limiting courtroom activity – while others are still operating like we’re not in the middle of a pandemic.

Hopefully, the Department of Justice will step in sometime soon – and shut down all courtroom activity for the next couple of months.


RE: Jails & Prisons

All federal prisons – and many state and local prisons and jails – have already canceled visitation for family members, friends and lawyers (Some are allowing lawyers to request waivers).

Unfortunately, the odds are very high that most jails and prisons will end up with numerous cases of coronavirus because as multiple speakers noted at a Justice Collaborative webinar last weekend, jails and prisons are “known incubators and amplifiers of disease”.

That webinar – entitled “Emergency Call: COVID-19 and the Criminal Justice System” – gathered speakers from across from the U.S. to discuss what should be done to minimize the impact of the coronavirus on the 2.3 million Americans who are currently incarcerated.

Unfortunately, most of the suggestions that were discussed during the webinar – e.g., releasing older inmates and placing them on home confinement; allowing inmates to use hand sanitizers; not admitting any new inmates until the pandemic has passed; transferring all inmates who are currently placed in solitary confinement into the general population; etc. – probably won’t be implemented.

Instead, jails and prisons will likely do what they’ve always done when confronted with any major challenge like this: i.e., lockdown the inmates and wait for things to blow over.


On-Site Reporting From Fort Devens

Because we are in regular contact with John Tighe – who, as most Frank Report readers know, is an inmate at the Fort Devens Federal Medical Center (FMC) facility – we are getting regular reports of what’s going on in that location.

John Tighe

For those of you who are not familiar with Fort Devens FMC, it is a federal prison located about 40 miles west of Boston that specializes in treating inmates who require specialized or long term care.

Fort Devens Medical Facility Prison

As a result, it has inmates with a wide variety of security classifications: i.e., from white-collar criminals to mobsters – and everything in between.

According to John, every inmate at the facility has serious medical issues.

That includes, but is not limited to, inmates who are double amputees; inmates who are blind; inmates who have end-stage cancer; inmates who suffer from dementia; inmates who suffer from severe mental illnesses – many of whom are on permanent lockdown; etc.

As John noted, things at Fort Devens FMC are pretty chaotic and tense.

No inmates have been tested for the coronavirus as of yet – and those who show any of the disease’s symptoms have been sent to the SHU.

In recent days, inmates have been either confined to their cells or only brought out in small groups to eat meals, go to the library, go to the commissary, etc. (This is the last week for commissary purchasing until further notice).

Because mealtimes are being staged in multiple groups rather than having all the inmates eat at once, inmates now have no more than 5 minutes to eat.

Adding to the tension about food is that microwave ovens have been removed from many of the residential units at the facility – which means that inmates in those units have no way to cook their own food.


Breaking News Regarding Coronavirus in Federal Prisons

According to another one of sources, Correctional Officers at federal prisons in Miami and Seattle have reported that inmates at both of those locations have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Based on the information that was shared during the Justice Collaborative webinar – as well as my own experience at the Metropolitan Detention Center – I expect that the infection rate at those two facilities (and virtually every other major jail and prison in the country) will eventually in the 90%-100% range.

That’s because of the crowded and unsanitary conditions that exist in most jails and prisons – and the overall poor quality medical care that is available to inmates.

Another thing that I believe will happen very quickly is that a significant percentage of guards at many jails and prisons will start calling in sick as soon as there are reports of confirmed coronavirus cases in their facilities. Once that happens, it seems inevitable to me that National

Guard troops will be called in to serve as substitute guards.


Sentencing Dates in NXIVM Case Will Likely Get Postponed

Given everything that’s going on in the criminal justice system right now, it seems very likely to me that the sentencing dates for Keith Raniere, Clare Bronfman and Kathy Russell will all get postponed until sometime in June or later.

Similarly, I doubt that sentencing dates for Nancy Salzman, Lauren Salzman and Allison Mack will get set before that time.

Raniere is already locked up – and will be getting credit for every day that he serves at MDC.

And the others are all in varying degrees of “home confinement” – which, while it won’t count towards their to-be-announced sentences, at least gives federal investigators a way to keep track of them.


Editor’s Note: Please ignore – and, more importantly, do not respond to – any comments that are posted by people who are trying to make light of the coronavirus. While there is certainly no reason for any of us to panic, there are many reasons for all of us to be sensible and vigilant.

If you focus on the number of people in the U.S. who are likely going to die from this illness, you can easily get freaked out. But, if instead, you focus on the extremely small percentage of our population that number represents, you’ll have a much better perspective with respect to your personal level of danger.

The vast, vast majority of us are going to get through this crisis – and get on with our lives. Please don’t do anything to lower your chances.

About the author

J.J. O'Hara


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  • I just noticed a couple of news stories relevant to this – and noticed what facility is involved in the first.

    As in the country as a whole, there are probably many more cases that just haven’t detected yet due to lack of testing:

    AP Exclusive: 1st Fed Inmate Tests Positive for Coronavirus

    ‘The inmate, who is housed at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, complained of chest pains on Thursday, a few days after he arrived at the facility, the federal Bureau of Prisons told The Associated Press. He was taken to a local hospital and was tested for COVID-19, officials said.’

    I’m not seeing broad confirmation of this story yet, but include it because I think it’s at least reflective of broader concerns and other troubling indications:

    The Justice Department reportedly wants new emergency powers amid the coronavirus crisis to detain people indefinitely without trial

  • Joe, thank you very much for this informed, considered, and even compassionate piece.

    In the big picture, I think much of the underlying problem is a treat-them-as-animals attitude towards prisoners, that is popular in some circles and that we see here. I think it’s important to consider several points in that regard:

    * It’s just wrong in terms of any legitimate moral or ethical construct, and particularly the Judeo-Christian ones that underlie this nation – including The Golden Rule. And that’s reflected in our history, however imperfect, of trying to make our penal system one more of corrections and reform.

    * It fails to take into account even the reality of societal interest, that most convicts are going to eventually be released, and if efforts have not been made to show them humane treatment and reform them (and I don’t doubt that some, will benefit from neither), much less avoiding subject them to treatment that dehumanizes them, we’re all actually much worse off or even in more danger

    * We now know that a signficant number of those incarcerated are actually innocent, as well as not really guilty of all the crimes to which they had to plead guilty.

  • So Federal troops and/or National Guard could be watching Queef Raniere at MDC???

    Say it isn’t so! Wouldn’t it be unfortunate if they found out Keith was a child rapist and decided to have some fun with him.

    Oh, poor Vanguard. Boohoo. Boohoo.


    • The same thing could happen to John Tighe – who may actually be innocent of pedophilia-related charges.

      Is that really the world you want?

  • Keith is an autodidactic and an autoimmunizer. He won’t get covid 19. He is going to get a new trial and win and be out later this year.

    • Say, Pea Onyu, aka Nicki:

      I hope that you make it through the next two weeks with your restaurant job being on hiatus.
      Remember that tough times never last but tough people do.

    • So far with your predictions you’ve been batting a zero pea brain, Get lost, go buy 80 rolls of TP troll

    • Why, if he is self-healing and autoimmune to disease, is Keith Raniere so often in the infirmary for all his ailments? Why did he get ringworm and get ointments to treat it? Why didn’t he heal himself? Raniere even treats cancer himself with homemade medicine. Why didn’t he study medicine and become a doctor? Why is he only an ethicist? Are ethicists needed more than doctors?

    • Kim Snyder
      Great job Joe!!!!!! The only thing left out- is that we have to remember to wash our hands ALL the time. Hope the prison Guards and the prisoners are doing this- or the disease will spread faster!!!!!
      Joe- tried to explain to Frank that, his age is what the CDC is seriously looking at. He seems to want to be out and about- and put his life in jeopardy- I am concerned about him!
      We have to wash our hands and stay inside and away from others.
      Great article!

  • We are behind the curve of the USA exponential growth as of now but we also we have a fully funded national health service to fall back on. Please follow the daily reports on the BBC etc by our Prime Minister in the UK as that is the scale of things to come. It may also help in any way whatsoever, free heath advice etc. Stay safe people.

  • Rep. Jim Banks: ‘Demand Reparations’ from Communist China for Coronavirus

    Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) said on Monday that the United States should begin forcing China to “pay the burden and the cost incurred” by the U.S. due to the Wuhan coronavirus.

    The Indiana lawmaker said during an appearance on Monday’s Tucker Carlson Tonight that the U.S. should place the financial burden caused by the Chinese coronavirus on China and floated several ways to do that, including China relieving a “great amount” of U.S. debt.

    How about Repudiation of all US debt to China and 100% Tariffs on all imports from China?

  • The nation’s judicial system barely functions as it is.
    If the government really wanted to protect America’s people it would exercise better control over the borders.
    Every time President Trump tried to control the borders to keep terrorists and drug dealers and gangsters out of the country Federal Judges would enjoin him from doing so.
    Kung Flu from Wuhan is the price we have to pay for such laxity in protecting the borders.

  • Great article as usual, Joe. I agree totally that all courts should’ve already been shut down. Keeping them open is madness.

  • Fuck you, Joe, lol.

    Nothing has changed since your last panic mongering article.

    News like this is simply a result of people changing their panic levels to comply with the politically correct ‘narrative’ of being overly cautious.

    People are LITERALLY changing their panic assessments from hour to hour, LOL, but it’s not based on massive changes to the infection rate.

    It’s based on new test results confirming the obvious (that people who were tested days ago came back positive).

    As each new ‘test’ comes back positive, more doom and gloom news stories get written.

    They are treating each single case of COVID as though it’s worse than 50,000 cases of the Flu, LOL.

    Jeeze, if the media did this for the Flu there’d be half a million news stories written each year.

    Truth is, you’re a panic mongering cocksucker and I hope you get the virus.

    I have no idea why Frank likes you —— cuz you’re a back stabber who tried to defraud a Texas county out of thousands for bogus software that never materialized as promised.

    That’s a fair comment, Frank, as it’s the truth and publicly available info.

    Shame on Joe O’Hara for scare mongering every few days.

    I am praying to my Lord and Savior (Jesus Christ) that Joe will be put on God’s list of ASSHOLES and RETARDS who will get this virus very soon.

    Scott is on that list and so is Flowers. “L” and Heidi may be put on that list soon too. Niceguy is not on that list though, cuz the Lord feels sorry for him cuz his wife keeps cheating on him with clients.

    • You’re a free speech hating cocksucker, Frank.

      Just delete the comment if you’re not gonna approve it.

      Kiss my ass for the last time. Your site is a joke now. Speech is better when assholes like you aren’t playing favorites with your buddies.

  • Good information. I imagine alot of readers of the FR will be watching closely to see what happens at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York, where Vanguard is located.
    We don’t want him getting the virus…….wow!

About the Author

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.

His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg, “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson, “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been prominently featured on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and was the lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” Parlato was also credited in the Starz docuseries "Seduced" for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Additionally, Parlato’s coverage of the group OneTaste, starting in 2018, helped spark an FBI investigation, which led to indictments of two of its leaders in 2023.

Parlato appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC, and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest. This was ironic, as many credit Parlato as one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

Parlato is a consulting producer and appears in TNT's The Heiress and the Sex Cult, which premiered on May 22, 2022. Most recently, he consulted and appeared on Tubi's "Branded and Brainwashed: Inside NXIVM," which aired January, 2023.

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