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COVID-19 Exposes Need for Progressive Criminal Justice Reform

Published onJul 01, 2020
COVID-19 Exposes Need for Progressive Criminal Justice Reform
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COVID-19 Exposes Need for Progressive Criminal Justice Reform
COVID-19 Exposes Need for Progressive Criminal Justice Reform
Description

Modeling conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calculates that as many as 160to214millionpeopleinthe United States could become infected by the 2019 novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2, which causes the disease COVID-19) and that as many as 200 000 to 1.7 million may die from COVID19.1 Prisons and jails are amplifiers of infectious diseases because of overcrowding and unsanitary living conditions and will most certainly contribute to these estimates. COVID-19 outbreaks have already been identified in New York City and Cook County, Illinois, jails, with infection rates at the Rikers Island jail complex far exceeding community rates. In response, correctional systems are implementing changes to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, including reducingjail and prison admissions and releasing people from facilities. In tandem, jails and prisons must also initiate facility-level policies to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Although some correctional entities have embraced the need for temporary reforms, many others remain opposed. This crisis reiterates the need for progressive criminal justice policy reforms- in particular, the wider adoption of compassionate release and the elimination of cash bail-and has shown that policy change is possible. Immediate action will have a positive impact on slowing the spread of COVID-19 and should become standard practice to alleviate the health harms caused by mass incarceration.

 

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