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Commentary

Five lessons pandemics can teach us about criminal justice reform

[prisonpolicy.org – 2/6/20]

No need to wait for pandemics: The public health case for criminal justice reform
We offer five examples of policies that could slow the spread of a viral pandemic in prisons and jails – and would mitigate the everyday impact of incarceration on public health.
by Peter Wagner and Emily Widra

The United States incarcerates a greater share of its population than any other nation in the world, so it is urgent that policymakers think about how a viral pandemic would impact people in prisons, in jails, on probation, and on parole, and to take seriously the public health case for criminal justice reform.

Below, we offer five examples of common sense policies that could slow the spread of the virus. This is not an exhaustive list, but a first step for governors and other state-level leaders to engage today, to be followed by further much-needed changes tomorrow.

Quick action is necessary for two reasons: the justice-involved population disproportionately has health conditions that make them more vulnerable — such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart problems, and HIV — and making policy changes requires staffing resources that will be unavailable if a pandemic hits.

The incarcerated and justice-involved populations contain a number of groups that may be particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, the novel coronavirus. Protecting vulnerable people would improve outcomes for them, reduce the burden on the health care system, protect essential correctional staff from illness, and slow the spread of the disease.

Read the full article

 

Join the discussion

  1. Facts should matter

    We seem to have selective alarmism in America when it comes to life-and-death threats.

    The Government tells society who and what to fear, but only if they’re able to profit from it!

  2. Frost

    Lets STOP offering and START DOING…MASS GATHERINGS AND DEMANDING CHANGE TO LAWS, ABUSES AND RESTORATION OF RIGHTS !!
    No Less Will Do …😠💪😤👨‍✈️
    Thks,,,

  3. kat

    The government is urging people, especially those over 60, to avoid mass crowds.
    How’s this going to work when the corona virus hits prisons?

    • Viva Corona

      Taking that a step further in these times of splendid self-isolation, is there another scenario where it is a crime (yes, a crime) to not venture out into public and spend time rubbing shoulders in a possibly crowded room with a bunch of strangers? Every 30, 90 or 365 days. For a person, mind you, not incarcerated, not on parole or probation. While there is a law against not showing up, I doubt there is a law against open and emphatic (sure, rude) coughing, sneezing and sniffling at the counter 🙂

      Would I hate to be the person tasked with processing these people…. but it is not like these in-person reporting appointments can be suspended. Can they? After all – they are a vital part of public safety and quite possibly, or probably, the difference between little Suzie or Johnny growing up joyfully or being kidnapped and hideously assaulted. Ah, such a dilemma.

  4. Tim in WI

    The distraction from the apparent pandemic threat from virus covid-19 sure lends the perfect opportunity.
    https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/house-passes-key-surveillance-bill-with-deadline-looming/ar-BB113WZ8?ocid=AMZN

  5. mike r

    “The United States incarcerates a greater share of its population than any other nation in the world”
    So we in-prison more people than any of the so called civilized societies. And this country’s Gov want to be a leading example in the world.

  6. Axiom

    The US incarcerates a greater share of its population because they’re willing to send offenders who’d never touched or communicated with a child to prison. Even authoritarian countries don’t do that

  7. mike r

    Who in the hell thinks we can trust these political hacks with no common sense to handle a situation like this “flu.” The entire world is freaking out because of something that has infected under 200,000 people so far out of over 7 billion. Even in China with over a billion people the shit is already slowing down and if it was that bad millions of people would have been impacted and died in China and surrounding localities. This is insane, they are going to collapse our not only our society but the world economy and guess what? they can care less about any of us and will not be affected by any of the restrictions or consequences of their actions. They will sit behind their walls and gated communities while having everything brought to their front door while the rest of the populace suffer and try to feed and house their families. This is going to get bad not because of the virus but because these self-serving political hacks are trying to divide and conquer and what better way than telling everyone to be scared to death of coming withing 6 feet of anyone else and closing businesses and preventing people from working. Guess Trump is not as smart as he thinks because he is being played by the best players in the world. That is all these political hacks are good at, lying and swindling their way to wealth and power.

  8. mike r

    Okay I may be wrong about how bad this is. I just seen where in Italy they have been having over 300 deaths a day. Now that is scary. Maybe they are not over-reacting. Who’s to say man, the media and politicians are soooo corrupt. I just really hope this doesn’t collapse society as we know it. I have a son who lives paycheck to paycheck in order to provide for my grandkids, what happens they tell him he cannot go to work? Rent still needs to get paid, food, utilities.

  9. Bill

    We are seeing the politics of fear being played out on a global scale that can work at our favor in turning people against the Registry. These mass isolations, movement restrictions, and some level of xenophobia will create a form of mass shared experiences that can illicit improved understanding and empathy for Registrants.

    Especially for CA during the November election. I believe that we can influence the people in our lives to vote against the ballot measure of labeling Tier 3 offenders as violent. After going through these shared experiences of isolation, restrictions, and being treated as a social leper people will become more receptive to our plight.

    Let’s turn this pandemic event into an opportunity to hastening the end of the Registry!

    • w

      People won’t instantly feel sympathy for registrants due to coronavirus and the media frenzy. This is a time when minutemen are itching to exercise their Walking Dead disaster plans and won’t hesitate to create the scene of their dreams. Unscrupulous district attorneys and politicians can and will bend these events to their gain. For instance, many schools are closed and kids are home now. One bad rso story now during all this would be a perfect opportunity to keep pushing the “public safety” agenda. The ones trying to secure the system are ALWAYS looking for the angles to play while the ones trying to fight the system get pushed back another year or 10.

    • Bill from CA

      @ Everybody

      There is apparently more than one Bill on this site: There’s “Bill” from MI and there’s lower case “bill”. From this point on I will use “Bill from CA” to avoid confusion…

      @ w

      I believe that fear of a police state is also in the heart of many people as well. It is especially evident in Black and Latino communities.

      And “unscrupulous” politicians and district attorneys don’t have the same sway over the masses because social media has leveled the playing field where a single individual’s video can go viral and influence people.

      As for myself I won’t be hard-pressed to convince my friends and relatives to vote against this ballot measure come November. This imposed isolation, restriction of movement, and xenophobia are going to play out over time and more so than the fear of getting sick. Those are the factors that shared experiences can do for me when I talk to the people in my life to vote against this ballot.

      The people that you say who are pushing for this Registry are no more influential than you and me. And their number are far fewer than our 100,000+ Registrants.

      What I’m saying w is that each and every one of us can influence the people in our lives far better than any douchebag attorneys, crooked cops, and hypocritical politicians ever will.
      Do you believe that the people that care and love you will listen to them? We are own influencers that can make a difference if we ALL do it together.

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