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The coronavirus has ripped through our prison and jail populations, infecting and killing hundreds of thousands of people most vulnerable to COVID-19.
A California appeals court orders San Quentin prison to reduce its population by half, the ACLU’s Death by Incarceration project paints a stark picture of COVID-19’s toll, and a new law grants early release to 3,000 New Jersey prisoners.
An outbreak at Montana’s Cascade County jail demonstrates the risk COVID-19 poses to rural communities, the virus has infected nearly 2,000 children in juvenile-detention facilities, and one large Michigan prison is grappling with an outbreak that’s infected roughly one-third of its staff.
A new report by researchers at Johns Hopkins University warns prisons and jails that ‘changes are urgently needed’ to prevent more COVID-19 outbreaks; Wisconsin continues to struggle with infections inside and outside its prisons; and a new video series shares the tragic story of a wife trying to get help for her husband amid an outbreak at Chicago’s Cook County Jail.
How a collaboration between scholars, public health officials, and the Wayne County jail has kept COVID-19 in check; the California prison with the most coronavirus cases kept prisoners working despite the outbreaks; two counties report spikes in infections among juvenile detainees.
A ’freedom fighter’ reports from the San Quentin prisons on Twitter, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reverses a ruling made to protect elderly prisoners, and a class-action lawsuit seeks $400 million from the state of Delaware for ignoring basic COVID-19 precautions.
COVID-19 has exposed a huge gap in knowledge over the rights of hospitalized prisoners, Wisconsin sees a spike in new cases in correctional facilities, and vitamin D might help save the lives of incarcerated people.
A ruling by a Texas judge slams officials for deliberate indifference toward vulnerable prisoners; in San Diego, an ill-advised hospital visit led to a massive COVID-19 outbreak; and a new report finds an alarming increase of Latinx and Native American youth in juvenile-detention facilities.
A new report documents pandemic-driven efforts to release people from Chicago’s Cook County jail, how Virginia’s 900-page COVID-19 response plan has failed elderly and ill prisoners and federal prosecutors argue that a life sentence equals a death sentence.
New Jersey is close to enacting a law that would release up to 3,000 people from prison, advocates urge New York legislators to consider early parole for elderly prisoners, and California prisons see a new spike in coronavirus cases.
Experts discuss ongoing issues with COVID-19 in prisons and jails, Oklahoma prison officials agree to mandatory testing of all staff, and an incarcerated journalist pens a heart-wrenching account of his experience with coronavirus.
Documents obtained by the ACLU suggest that restarting executions caused a COVID-19 outbreak at a federal prison; Florida’s Brevard County jail says it quashed an outbreak, but a lack of testing raises questions; and San Quentin’s newspaper is publishing again.
Despite more than 16,000 COVID-19 infections in Florida’s prisons, the head of the system says his department has protected people from the virus; Science Magazine explores research being conducted on decarceration best practices; and a recent outbreak puts South Dakota on our new infections map.
After testing positive for COVID-19, Tommy Zeigler, whose case inspired legislation and multiple investigative reports, is missing in a Florida prison; advocates for women inside Oklahoma’s Eddie Warrior Correctional Center want to hear from Gov. Kevin Stitt; and men quarantined in a previously shuttered prison say they’re being forced to pee in cups.
A court ruling allows the Cook County Jail to return to double-occupancy and dorm-style housing, a state oversight agency makes an example of New York’s Fishkill prison, and we update our ongoing map of new COVID-19 cases.
Doctors at California’s San Quentin State Prison hope other correctional institutions will learn from their experience, COVID-19 causes one Colorado county to cancel its plans to build a bigger jail, and guards at Oregon’s Snake River Correctional Institution are blamed for an ongoing outbreak.
Women at California’s Folsom prison fear that men with COVID-19 will be transferred into their building, a new report looks at the shockingly high rate of COVID-19 deaths among incarcerated people, and we update our ongoing case tracker map.
As states move toward reopening, jails and prisons continue to report large COVID-19 outbreaks; researchers call for greater transparency in reporting infection rates; and prisoners at a New York federal jail say screening is limited to, ‘Are you OK?’
California’s corrections secretary is retiring amid criticism over his handling of COVID-19 outbreaks, a Baltimore public defender describes his struggle to get an elderly client out of prison, and advocates for incarcerated people in Colorado want Gov. Jared Polis to consider more prisoner releases.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown considers releasing more people from prison, how California’s Fresno County quietly became a major COVID-19 cluster, and new updates to our coronavirus outbreak map.
A new lawsuit uses the lesson of one prison to demand the release of people from New Mexico lock-ups, a new bill would require more transparency in reporting COVID-19 cases in prisons and jails, and deaths of incarcerated people hit a grim milestone.
What makes Ohio prisons so deadly, the CDC urges corrections officials to conduct mass testing, and the Washington Post editorial board finds a surge in jail and prison COVID-19 outbreaks ’morbidly unsurprising’.
Gov. Ron DeSantis ignores calls to release elderly people from Florida prisons, quarantines are no longer hampering California prison fire crews, and an update to our ongoing COVID-19 outbreak map.
Amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks in state prisons, Oregon lawmakers grapple with decarceration plans; the Sacramento County Sheriff won’t share infection data with the oversight board; and Oklahoma corrections officials use CARES Act money to ’boost morale’.
California prison watchdog finds lapses in COVID-19 screening procedures, the ‘trailer jails’ that officials in one Missouri county praised as ‘innovative’ are the site of an outbreak, and the U.S. Marshals Service is blamed for spreading infections among federal detention facilities.
Newspaper fearmongers around releasing people from prison due to COVID-19, oversight agency urges state DOC to ease restrictions on people in prison who have faced months of lockdown due to pandemic, sheriff orders staff not to wear masks.
New outbreaks continue to hit California prisons, advocates have harsh words for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and a longtime journalist weighs in on a sheriff’s decision to take a battle with the ACLU to the Supreme Court.
A new research project aims to better understand how COVID-19 spreads through jails, the virus continues to sweep through California’s death row, and federal prison employees are suing for hazard pay.
Attorneys file a class-action lawsuit over the outbreak at a California forensic psychiatric hospital, cases increase among Vermont prisoners sent to Mississippi, plus a map of new cases.
Amid sustained lockdowns and deteriorating conditions, prisoners and guards are reaching a breaking point; a new study shows decarceration is slowing amid increasing outbreaks in detention facilities; and HuffPost interviews a Rikers Island whistleblower.
Incompetence and inaction by California’s leaders are driving illness and death inside the state’s prison system.
According to people incarcerated and their loved ones, state officials are ignoring the spread of COVID-19 at New Haven Correctional Center.
Connecticut Bail Fund Hotline Volunteers
A deadly pandemic should not be used as a bargaining chip against poor, detained people charged with crimes.
Dozens of Vermont prisoners sent to an out-of-state private prison test positive for COVID-19, new study shows the prison infection rate is more than four times the general public’s, and Jay-Z’s Team Roc sues a Mississippi prison over “sub-human and deplorable” conditions.
California watchdog agency that repeatedly warned of "dire consequences" of prison overcrowding urges lawmakers to implement reforms; human rights org tweets "keep-you-up-at-night horrifying" stories from Georgia jail; and we map out four days of coronavirus outbreaks.
COVID-19 tears through a Texas prison for medically fragile women; California prisons are flattening the curve on new diagnoses, but deaths continue to climb; and the ACLU finds jails releases haven’t led to an increase in crime.
All lawmakers have a duty to use every available lever to reduce the number of people in prison, whether by compassionate release or expanded use of furloughs or some other mechanism. Taking these steps will demand immense political courage. But not doing it means consigning people—some just months away from release—to die preventable deaths.
All but nine of California’s 35 prisons house more people than the facility was designed to hold.
Juan Moreno Haines,
Prisons that have lagged on releasing people have also seen significant COVID-19 outbreaks, one Indiana sheriff is spending his CARES Act money on high-tech virus prevention tools and California’s corrections chief says he’ll crack down on staff who refuse to wear masks.
How governors respond to this pandemic will define their legacy. They all face a choice: save lives in prisons now, or hand down potential death sentences with their inaction and watch harm ripple through communities and exacerbate inequities into future generations.
Miriam Aroni Krinsky
There are nearly 1,000 new cases at Seagoville Federal Correctional Institution in Texas, the Cook County Jail gets praise for its COVID-19 response, and California’s jail oversight board announces plans to collect and publish county-level data.
Today’s update focuses on major outbreaks in two state prisons in tiny Buckingham County, Virginia that in June gave it one of the highest per-capita COVID-19 infection rates in the U.S.
Geriatic prison with the most deaths in Texas has a years-long history of neglect, Kentucky corrections officials won’t say how many people they’ve tested for COVID-19, and an outbreak at a remote Oregon prison grows from 20 to 120 cases in less than a week, all as Gov. Kate Brown has refused calls to decarcerate the state’s prison system.
Critics say California’s release plan is an inadequate response to the COVID-19 outbreak in the state’s prison system, 42 percent of Louisiana prisoners tested for COVID-19 are positive, and conditions at Texas and Indiana prisons get the attention of lawmakers.
A new report finds that too many kids, particularly Black youth, continue to be held in dangerous juvenile detention facilities; California prison officials refused offers of free testing before and during San Quentin outbreak; and Gov. Gavin Newsom announces plans to release 8,000 incarcerated people.
A new multimedia campaign seeks to amplify voices of people incarcerated in Maryland’s Prince George’s County Jail, a GEO Group stockholder sues the for-profit prison company over its ’woefully ineffective’ COVID-19 response, and widespread testing is turning up thousands of new infections.
Pressure mounts on California’s governor to release people from prison; people with months, even days, left on their sentence are dying in Texas prisons; and a new report finds higher rates of COVID-19 in prison than in the U.S. population.
Florida media outlets had to sue to obtain information on COVID prison deaths; after preventable outbreaks, California replaces its prison medical director; and the Texas prison where Andrea Circle Bear died grapples with a new outbreak.
Advocates sue to get people out of ’deplorable’ Detroit jail, Oregon prisons see more COVID cases while governor stalls on commutations, and botched transfer depletes California’s prison fire camps.
San Quentin prisoners launch a hunger strike to protest inhumane conditions; amid an outbreak, a for-profit healthcare provider refuses to test everyone in an Ohio jail; and cases are spiking at Washington state’s Coyote Ridge Corrections Center.
A California lawmaker describes the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s handling of San Quentin outbreak as “abhorrent,” private prison giant CoreCivic turns a profit amid a pandemic and an inspection of a Tennessee jail turns up “inadequate and harmful” conditions.
COVID continues to tear through San Quentin and another botched CDCR transfer results in an outbreak; cases continue to climb in jails and a prisoner at Sing Sing describes prison life amid a pandemic.
A new report gives all 50 states failing grades on how they’ve handled COVID-19 in correctional facilities, infections continue to creep into jails and the Palm Beach post takes Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to task for his coronavirus failures.
Sacramento jail deputies agree to start wearing masks, the state agency that oversees California jails won't collect COVID-19 data, a lockdown failed to stop infections in a women’s jail, and cases continue to increase at San Quentin.
Despite early warnings, jails and prisons have seen a rapid spread of the virus—a humanitarian disaster that puts all of our communities, and lives, at risk. Every day, The Appeal examines the scale of the crisis, numbers of infected and dead, around the nation.
“My dad, he’s part of the vulnerable population. If I think about it, it becomes really, really, really scary. So to be completely honest, I’m trying not to think about it.”
Despite early warnings, jails and prisons have seen a rapid spread of the virus -- a humanitarian disaster that puts all of our communities, and lives, at risk. The Appeal examines the scale of the crisis, numbers of infected and dead, around the nation.
As COVID-19 deaths mount in Michigan prisons, the review of questionable convictions has slowed, leaving prisoners vulnerable to the disease.
Aaron Miguel Cantú
The state has recommended the release of 10 women at a coronavirus-ravaged prison—but Governor John Bel Edwards still hasn’t signed the paperwork.
Euka Wadlington was denied clemency by the Department of Justice under Obama. But then he mounted a legal challenge to sentencing enhancements used in his drug case; in April, a federal judge granted his release. Now he’s adjusting to freedom—and life in the coronavirus era.
Hepatitis C has ripped through prisons and jails, despite more effective treatments for the disease. It is a comorbidity to COVID-19, and the pandemic threatens to cut already weak state funding for prisons to treat those with the disease.
The state is sending virus-positive people to Angola prison—but those numbers aren’t reported on the Department of Corrections website.
The 2015 shooting left Keith Davis Jr. with respiratory issues. His defense attorney says that as he appeals his case he should be freed from prison.
Towns like Homer, Louisiana, have huge prisons, a tiny populace, and few public health resources—a potentially lethal combination as COVID-19 spreads.
Doing so will save countless lives, and in the process, they may show us by example how to begin, finally, to dismantle mass incarceration for good.
Experts are urging large-scale releases. But the Department of Justice often operates contrary to expertise.
It took a prisoner’s death ‘just for them to pass out a single extra bar of soap,’ one incarcerated man said.
Incarcerated people, corrections officers, and their families and communities are bound together by the threat of a deadly and fast-moving disease. The sooner we recognize this, and take decisive action, the more lives we will save.
Decisive action by governors and the President now can save lives -- of incarcerated people, correctional and medical personnel, and nearby community members. Business as usual will not.