Failing Grades: States’ Responses to COVID-19 in Jails & Prisons

Thu, June 25, 2020 11:27 AM | Marsha Grant (Administrator)

Failing Grades: States’ Responses to COVID-19 in Jails & Prisons

By Emily Widra and Dylan Hayre   Tweet this
June 25, 2020

When the pandemic struck, it was instantly obvious what needed to be done: take all actions possible to “flatten the curve.” This was especially urgent in prisons and jails, which are very dense facilities where social distancing is impossible, sanitation is poor, and medical resources are extremely limited. Public health experts warned that the consequences were dire: prisons and jails would become petri dishes where, once inside, COVID-19 would spread rapidly and then boomerang back out to the surrounding communities with greater force than ever before.

Advocates were rightly concerned, given the long-standing and systemic racial disparities in arrest, prosecution, and sentencing, that policymakers would be slow to respond to the threat of the virus in prisons and jails when it was disproportionately poor people of color whose lives were on the line. Would elected officials be willing to take the necessary steps to save lives in time?

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