The COVID-19 pandemic is an urgent and unsettling magnifier of longstanding racial injustices in the United States. These injustices are laid bare most profoundly in the United States’ prisons and jails, where one out of every five people has had COVID-19 and where the rate of infection is four times as high as the general population. It would be a mistake, however, to imagine prisons and jails as separate from society. The rampant infection and profound suffering under COVID-19 in carceral facilities serves as a major source of transmission into communities at-large, particularly Black, Indigenous, and Latinx communities.
This vicious cycle—largely unaddressed by criminal legal and other state apparatuses—continues unabated, leaving behind a social precedent that undercuts well-established epidemiological and public health research, basic human rights principles, and the imperatives racial justice and antiracism.
The SARS-CoV-2 virus and resultant coronavirus disease (COVID19) have caused unprecedented suffering among incarcerated individuals since the beginning of the pandemic. While many believe that widespread vaccination in carceral settings will solve the problem, this perspective underestimates the severity of the situation and mischaracterizes its driver.
A number of advocates and experts stress that following structural changes are needed to address the above injustices.
These structural changes include:
Community-Based Harm Reduction Strategies
Reorientation of State, Prosecutorial, and Carceral Positioning
Community-Carceral Health Principles
With these injustices and needed solutions in mind, the call to action for those in the research and policy space is three-fold:
Please join us in this effort.
Our overarching societal goals of delivering safety and well-being for all require securing the foundations of mental and physical health, freedom from violence, freedom of movement, housing security, food security, access to opportunity, and undistorted recognition of one’s full personhood.
The COVID-19 Vaccine: What You Should Know (For Incarcerated Individuals)
Provides information about COVID-19 and the vaccine for people incarcerated
The COVID-19 Vaccine: What You Should Know (For Loved Ones) Provides information about COVID-19 and the vaccine for loved ones of people incarcerated
Vaccination plus Decarceration — Stopping Covid-19 in Jails and Prisons
Pairing vaccination and decarceration is necessary to protect incarcerated individuals