Criminal Justice Reform Advocates Applaud Federal Bill to Collect COVID-19 Data in Prisons, Jails

Statement from Vera Institute of Justice President Nicholas Turner

NEW YORK — Today, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), along with Senators Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Representatives Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas), Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), and Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) introduced the COVID in Corrections Data Transparency Act, bicameral legislation to further COVID-19 data collection in correctional facilities.

Vera Institute of Justice President Nicholas Turner issued the following statement in support of the bill:

“The top ten COVID-19 hotspots in the country are in jails and prisons, yet there is little transparency about the response to outbreaks. This legislation would provide for key information for coordinating responses to COVID-19—including decarceration, prevention, and treatment—for those living and working in jails and prisons. It also would help us to understand the extent of disparities in the virus’s spread and impact, by requiring facilities to report data on race, ethnicity, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, and other demographics.

“Without transparency and immediate action from federal and local governments, thousands of people behind bars and in surrounding communities remain at risk. This legislation is critical to our nation’s response to the pandemic. Time is of the essence; we need immediate data on outbreaks and clusters in order to mount effective responses and save lives. Without immediate changes, more lives are at risk.”