This week on the Writer's Detective Bureau, quarantine, narcotics case jurisdiction and SAR. I'm Adam Richardson and this is the Writer's Detective Bureau.
Welcome to episode 77 of the Writer's Detective Bureau, the podcast dedicated to helping authors and screenwriters write professional quality crime related fiction. This week, I'm talking about isolation and quarantine by public health, narcotic case jurisdiction, and using SAR to search for missing children.
And real quick, I need to thank Gold Shield patrons, Debra Dunbar from debradunbar.com, C.C. Jameson from ccjameson.com, Larry Keeton, Vicki Tharp of vikitharp.com, Chrysann, Larry Darter, Natalie Barelli of nataliebarelli.com, and Craig Kingsman of craigkingsman.com for their support with this episode. I also want to send a huge thanks to my coffee club patrons. And you can find links to all of the writers supporting this episode in the show notes at writersdetective.com/77. And to learn about setting up your own Patreon account for your author business or to support the show for as little as $2 per month, visit writersdetective.com/patreon, P-A-T-R-E-O-N.
I was intrigued by the news story this week about the quarantine of Americans returning from China where there's obviously, as you know, been an outbreak of the Coronavirus, which led me down a bit of a research rabbit hole about the powers of public health authorities when it comes to quarantine or isolation. Federal law title 42 US code section 264, empowers the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Surgeon General, the power to isolate and quarantine. And that power has been delegated to the CDC, our Center for Disease Control, to handle the actual boots on the ground implementation of isolation or quarantine. Now that's at the federal level. And the states have one as well. So in California, we have a health and safety code that provides authority to the state's department of Health Services to conduct isolations and quarantines.
So according to the CDC website, if a quarantinable disease is suspected or identified, CDC may issue a federal isolation or quarantine order. So public health authorities at the federal, state, and local, and even tribal levels may sometimes seek help from police or other law enforcement officers to enforce a public health order. So according to the CDC, breaking a federal quarantine order is punishable by fines and imprisonment. And it's also a misdemeanor crime in most states for state level violations.
So what's the difference between isolation and quarantine? Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick. So if you think back in history to the leper colonies, that would be isolation. Where quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. So the interesting thing and the reason why I'm talking about this, or at least interesting to me, is that the quarantine and isolation orders are issued by a health officer, not usually a judge like in a criminal matter. But it's still a matter of government restricting the movements and freedom of its citizens. So it could be an interesting area in the law to write about.
So if we were to look at detentions of citizens on a spectrum, with one end of the spectrum being public health and the other end of the spectrum, criminal apprehension, the closer we get to the criminal side of things, the more we start to deal with due process, like probable cause and needing warrants and authority from courts to do so. But on that public health end, the government can actually restrict your freedom of movement without any kind of legal due process. And I guess the middle ground of that public health on one end to criminal detention on the other spectrum would be mental health holds, which would be right in the middle. But anyway, check out cdc.gov for more on public health orders for quarantine and isolation, especially if you're considering writing a story about bioterrorism or how to deal with the legalities of dealing with a disease epidemic and preventing it from becoming a pandemic
So this week's first question comes from Marnie Werner. Marnie writes, "I have a jurisdiction question. I have a cabin in the woods where a drug gang is receiving bulk shipments of drugs and repackaging for sale. I haven't decided if it's located on county land, state forest or national forest land, but it's not on private property. Who has jurisdiction? In other words, who would go in and make the bust if it's located on state or national forest land? And what evidence would be needed for a warrant to do so?" And now that I think about it, is a warrant needed to go on the property if it's on public land and is a separate warrant needed to be able to arrest people? Does it make a difference if the cabin is owned by a private party or abandoned and not owned by anyone?"... Continue reading...
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