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October 20, 2020

Rounding up yet another important round of recent COVID-19 prison and jail stories

One sign of COVID fatigue for me is my tendency now to just keep scrolling past new press stories about the ugly (new and old) realities of prisons and jails during this persistent pandemic.  But, especially because COVID fear and not just fatigue is a felt reality for many millions of incarcerated persons and corrections staff and their families every day, I still should keep rounding up prison-COVID press pieces on a regular basis.  And, as I have said before, we should be regularly thankful that the press and commentators keep reporting and discussing these stories that keep emerging from prisons and jails:

From the Appleton Post-Crescent, "COVID-19 has infected more than 2,600 people in Wisconsin’s prisons. Should certain inmates be released to stop the spread?"

From BBC News, "Prisoners locked up for 23 hours due to Covid rules is 'dangerous'"

From the (NC) News & Observer, "‘I signed up for a jail sentence, not a death sentence.’ Escapee now seeks leniency."

From the New York Times, "As Coronavirus Cases Soar, One Montana Town Reels: In the Mountain West, an outbreak has revealed the danger that the virus poses to jails and rural communities"

From NJ.com, "Murphy signs bill to release thousands of N.J. prisoners early beginning the day after Election Day"

From PBS News Hour, "Inside the COVID unit at the world’s largest women’s prison"

From Slate, "The Right to Escape From Prison: A 1974 ruling bears revisiting as prisoners flee the COVID-19 pandemic."

From the Washington Post, "Two Baltimore correctional officers died of covid-19 just months apart"

October 20, 2020 at 11:41 AM | Permalink


One thing that I would be interested in seeing is looking at how covid is impacting the ability to have trials. While not every state and county are reacting the same way, the need for social distancing seems to be impacting the large urban jurisdictions the most. Those are also the jurisdictions that are most likely to have large jails with large numbers of inmates.

One potential response early in the COVID crisis was to do triage on the jails and let out "low" level offenders on bond. But if you are not able to try the "high" level offenders (murders, armed robberies, rapes), and are continuing to arrest new high level offenders, you eventually wind up with a full jail again without any good candidates for bond reductions.

Posted by: tmm | Oct 20, 2020 1:15:12 PM

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