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

Policymakers Must Lift the Veil on COVID-19 in Jails and Prisons

We know the problem is bad, but we don’t know the details, particularly surrounding how COVID-19 in correctional facilities is impacting people of color. Currently, no central government reporting and collection agency, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tracks the data on COVID-19 in correctional facilities. Nonprofits a ...

Blog Post
  • Micah  Haskell-Hoehl
    Micah Haskell-Hoehl
  • Logan Schmidt
    Logan Schmidt
September 02, 2020
Blog Post

Series: Target 2020

The Party Platforms Must Address the Urgent Need to Transform American Criminal Justice

America’s justice system is rooted in the nation’s history of slavery and racial oppression and applying a human dignity lens is necessary to achieve transformational change. This perspective values the intrinsic worth of human life and a person’s ability to grow and change. In that spirit, the Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) urges important party ...

Blog Post
  • Hayne Yoon
    Hayne Yoon
  • Logan Schmidt
    Logan Schmidt
June 17, 2020
Blog Post

Series: Covid-19

Vera’s New Prevalence Model Suggests COVID-19 is Spreading through ICE Detention at Much Higher Rates than Publicized

As of May 31, 2020, ICE reported testing 2,781 people in its custody; 1,461 positive cases were disclosed at just 61 of the more than 200 facilities it uses to detain people. ICE has not clarified whether the remaining tests are confirmed negative or still pending, meaning a minimum of 52 percent of people tested have received positive test results ...

Blog Post
  • Nina Siulc
    Nina Siulc
June 04, 2020
Blog Post

Series: Covid-19

Coronavirus, Mental Health, and the Enduring Importance of Health-Centered Crisis Response

With support from the NFL Foundation, Vera’s Serving Safely initiative promotes crisis response programs that connect people in crisis to community-based services while minimizing involvement with police and the criminal justice system. In today’s fraught environment, however, vital social distancing efforts deprive people of traditional supports a ...

Blog Post
  • Jackson Beck
    Jackson Beck
  • Leah  Pope
    Leah Pope
May 28, 2020
Blog Post