As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to devastate the lives and livelihoods of people across the country, this unprecedented crisis demands urgent and continued action from our elected officials. In addition to massive economic relief for all of those affected, immediate action is needed to protect people currently incarcerated in our jails, prisons, immigration detention facilities, and refugee camps. Poor conditions in these facilities often make it impossible for proper social distancing measures and disease prevention, and these populations are especially vulnerable to the virus.
On any given day, there are 2.1 million people locked up in America’s jails and prisons and an additional 4.4 million people are on some form of community supervision such as probation or parole. During the COVID-19 pandemic, individuals impacted by the criminal justice system are especially vulnerable.
Here you will find regularly updated stories of how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted individuals in the criminal justice system and their loved ones.
New data from states and cities around the United States shows that Black and Latino people are getting sick and dying from the novel coronavirus at alarming, and heavily disproportionate, rates.
People of color in the United States are less likely to be insured, more likely to have existing health conditions, more likely to work in jobs that continue to expose them to the virus, and less likely to be tested and treated when ill.
All of these existing disparities are concentrated and compounded in America’s system of mass incarceration. High rates of infection and death among people of color are likely to get even higher as the coronavirus spreads through the nation’s jails and prisons.
The numbers clearly show that COVID-19 in prisons is a public health crisis.
COVID-19 and the Criminal Justice System
As of January 5, 2021, nearly 330,000 have had confirmed cases of COVID-19 in U.S. prisons. One in every five state and federal prisoners in the United States has tested positive for the coronavirus
In some states, people in prison have COVID 19 infection rates 8 times more than the national average.
The adjusted death rate in the prison population was 2.0 times higher than would be expected if the age and sex distributions of the U.S. and prison populations were equal.
In prisons, jails, and correctional facilities across the country, there have been over 2,000 known deaths among incarcerated people and correctional officers, as of January 2021.
Protecting Families During the COVID-19 Pandemic