martes, 28 de abril de 2009

Justice Issues: Preparing the Justice System for a Pandemic Influenza

Preparing the Justice System for a Pandemic Influenza and Other Public Health Emergencies
BJA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are pleased to announce the release of A Framework for Improving Cross-Sector Coordination for Emergency Preparedness and Response and Coordinated Implementation of Community Response Measures (Including Social Distancing) to Control the Spread of Pandemic Respiratory Disease.


The President, in the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza, communicated that "A new strain of influenza virus has been found in birds in Asia, and has shown that it can infect humans. If this virus undergoes further change, it could very well result in the next human pandemic." Among the key aspects of the President's strategy is preparing for a multilevel response by federal, state, and local governments. This preparation will help ensure that the rule of law is upheld and maintained throughout any crisis, whether natural or manmade. A pandemic, with elements of continued crisis and contagion, would present critical challenges to America's law enforcement, courts, and corrections systems.

Local communities and their justice and public safety systems that serve them must be prepared for the possibility of a pandemic influenza, whether it be the H5N1 avian influenza or another natural or manmade public health crisis, including acts of bioterrorism where infectious agents can wreak havoc for extended periods of time.

The Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has stated that while HHS is the lead federal agency in responding to the health threat posed by H5N1, states and local communities must be prepared to bear a large portion of the responsibility for local planning and response.

HHS estimates that a pandemic would likely come in waves of 6-8 weeks in duration, leading to high levels of illness, death, social disruption, and economic loss. HHS Secretary Leavitt has testified that thousands of communities may experience the influenza at any one time. Major disruption of infrastructure and economy can be predicted, with many businesses and organizations seeing as much as a 30 percent or higher absentee rate for staff who cannot report to work due to illness, illness of a loved one, or out of concern for their own safety. For more information on the pandemic concerns, visit

Impact on the Justice System

It is likely that as health and mortality issues increase, the responsibility of the justice system will rapidly expand-greater calls for service, added security responsibilities for health care and related facilities, enforcement of court-imposed restrictions, public education, control of panic and fear and associated behaviors, and ensuring that the public health crisis is not used as an opportunity for individual or organizational (criminal) gains.

With the Office of Justice Programs (OJP), the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) maintains its role of serving state and local justice systems. With regard to pandemic planning, BJA has determined that it is an appropriate role to support state and local justice systems by ensuring that in any public health crisis, the rule of law can and will be maintained. It is also critical that all components of public safety, public and private, be concerned with preserving the rule of law in our communities, whether they be civil and criminal courts at the state, county or municipal level, law enforcement and private security agencies, and institutional and community corrections agencies.

Critical Questions

As justice and public safety policymakers and practitioners begin to think about the impact of a pandemic on their operations and who they might respond, a few critical questions might be good to consider.

BJA's Support

BJA's support to state and local justice and public safety agencies will involve several key resources.

National Symposium
On May 24-25, 2006 in Chicago, Illinois, BJA hosted a national symposium entitled "Justice and Public Health Systems Planning: Confronting a Pandemic Outbreak." The purpose of the symposium was to provide justice system leaders with an overview on the pandemic threat, but also offer an update on promising planning and response approaches, and a forum for strategic cross-discipline discussions. Over 200 local, federal, state, and tribal justice and public safety representatives attended. As an outcome of this symposium, BJA will issue a report detailing the discussions and highlighting promising planning and operational protocols and processes that local justice system agencies currently have in place to plan for and respond to a pandemic or other public health crisis. This symposium was coordinated with HHS, the Department of Homeland Security, and other agencies.

The symposium proceedings are now available onlline. Two presentations initially heard at this symposium are also available as online presentations.

Additional resources, produced as a result of this symposium, will be added to this page in the near future.

Training and Technical Assistance
BJA will engage its key partners in the law enforcement, courts, and corrections communities to develop technical assistance and training response capabilities that state and local justice agencies can call upon to assist in their local planning efforts. These efforts are described in BJA's Pandemic Planning Summary. For information on BJA training and technical assistance resources, please contact BJA at

Other Resources
BJA has a document reference library and portal available for local justice agencies that consists of useful web links for official information, guides, and publications prepared to assist in planning efforts, and documents from local efforts where BJA has been involved or where other agencies have supported justice system planning for a pandemic.

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Justice Issues: Preparing the Justice System for a Pandemic Influenza

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