A federal appeals court has blocked, for now, a judge’s order forcing Miami-Dade County to give masks, soap and cleaning supplies to inmates at a jail wracked by the novel coronavirus.
The U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday said that Miami District Court Judge Kathleen Williams overstepped the law when she ruled that inmates at the Metro West Detention Center must get the supplies — and also be tested for COVID-19, as well as people who have been in contact with them.
“To avoid contempt, then, [the jails] must allocate limited testing resources to Metro West at the expense of other county facilities,” the appellate judges ruled.
“All the while, the district court has tasked itself with overseeing the steps the defendants are taking to ‘ensure additional social distancing safeguards,’ even though it acknowledges that social distancing is ‘impossible’ at the current inmate population level. In short, the district court assumed the role of ‘super-warden.’ ”