Ending Mass Incarceration

Responding to COVID-19

Cases of coronavirus have quickly spread across police precincts, courts, jails, detention centers, prisons, and other places where the work of the criminal justice and immigration systems occur. Actors in these systems have a critical role to play. This is underscored by how vast the footprint of these systems is: almost 10.5 million arrests a year, 2.2 million people in jail and prison at any given time, 50,000 in immigration detention, and another 4.5 million under some form of criminal justice supervision (mostly probation or parole). Many people who have contact with the justice system are at high risk for contracting viruses and other infections, both because many of those who are incarcerated have serious chronic health issues and because the conditions in courts, police and immigration detention, and correction facilities create unique risks for disease transmission. As the number of people infected in the United States grows exponentially, administrators, staff, and government actors need to focus on prevention and containment in the criminal and immigration legal systems.

Related Work

Series: Covid-19

Communities Need State and Local Deportation Defense Programs Now More Than Ever

Presently, the vast majority of people in immigration detention—70 percent—have no legal representation. This is because people facing deportation do not have the right to a public defender if they cannot afford one. And without legal representation, they face slim chances of being released from custody and remaining in the United States. With near ...

Blog Post
  • Melissa Garlick
    Melissa Garlick
May 12, 2020
Blog Post

Series: Covid-19

Public Health and Public Safety: The Critical Role of Police During the COVID-19 Crisis

One concern has been that law enforcement officers themselves could become vectors of transmission for coronavirus because of the degree of public exposure inherent in policing. While much has been written about law enforcement practices at this time, less focus has been placed on the public health and safety risks for frontline responders and thei ...

Blog Post
  • Leah  Pope
    Leah Pope
  • Aaron Stagoff-Belfort
    Aaron Stagoff-Belfort
April 30, 2020
Blog Post

Series: Covid-19

Facebook Post Put High School Student in a Detention Facility Now Struck by Coronavirus

In February 2018, Hernandez, upset about a change in location for her special education program, wrote, “I’m coming tomorrow morning and I’m going to shoot all of ya bitches,” on East High School’s Facebook page. She was charged with making a terroristic threat. She pled guilty to third-degree falsely reporting an incident, a misdemeanor offense, a ...

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  • Erica Bryant
    Erica Bryant
April 28, 2020
Blog Post

Series: Covid-19

Unaccompanied Children Suffer as Hearings are Sped Up, Switched to Video During COVID-19 Crisis

Video teleconference (VTC) hearings allow unaccompanied children to participate in court proceedings without physically appearing in court. The children answer questions from a judge on a screen, who might be translated by an interpreter in a third location. Such hearings are commonplace in adult immigration proceedings, despite concerns about thei ...

Blog Post
  • Erica Bryant
    Erica Bryant
April 14, 2020
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