Jails and Prisons in the Era of COVID-19

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April 9, 2020

LBJ In the Arena: April 8, 2020

LBJ Senior Lecturer Michele Deitch, the leading international expert on prison and jail oversight, sits down with LBJ alumna Nancy La Vigne (MPAff '91), vice president for justice policy at the Urban Institute, and Dr. Ronald Day, vice president of programs at the Fortune Society, to discuss the far-reaching effects of COVID-19 on the criminal justice system, including policing, confinement conditions in jails and prisons, and state and local reforms.

Deeper Dive   |   Additional Reading 



Deeper Dive

Webinar: Strategies for Prisons, Jails, and Oversight Bodies During COVID-19
Michele Deitch
National Association of Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE), March 24, 2020
Michele Deitch and other national correctional health care experts discuss strategies for prisons, jails and oversight bodies during the COVID-19 crisis.

Status of COVID-19 in Austin and unpacking shelter-in-place
Michele Deitch
Austin Youth Justice Webinar, April 2, 2020
Michele Deitch was one of the experts in a webinar about the effects of COVID-19 and youth justice in Austin.


Additional reading

Complete list of press coverage on COVID-19 and prisons on the index of ideas and expertise from LBJ School faculty

Recommended strategies for sheriffs and jail officials in responding to the COVID-19 crisis
Michele Deitch
March 20, 2020
A guidance document for sheriffs and jail officials to help them implement strategies to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.

Prison restrictions to combat coronavirus leaving monitors, families locked out
Michele Deitch
USA Today/The Marshall Project, March 17, 2020
Oversight visits to prisons and jails across the country are already collateral damage in the global pandemic. But in New York and Illinois, independent oversight officials no longer have access to prisons, while their counterparts in Washington state voluntarily halted their inspections.

Prisons and the COVID-19 pandemic: What must be done NOW to prevent catastrophe
Michele Deitch
Naked Capitalism, March 19, 2020
An interview with Michele Deitch on prison conditions and containing the spread of COVID-19 in prisons and jails.

Justice during pandemic: Police seek to protect public and prisoners
Michele Deitch
Christian Science Monitor, March 24, 2020
Right now, public safety means reducing the number of people in jails. Are measures taken to reduce overcrowding during the pandemic likely to lead to permanent change in how prisoners are cared for?

Releasing inmates, screening staff: U.S. jails and prisons rush to limit virus risks
Michele Deitch
Reuters, March 22, 2020
Reducing county and municipal jail populations not only limits the number of inmates and staff at risk of contracting the illness, it also enhances their ability to separate the remaining inmates, a crucial step for containing any outbreak.

How Should Prisons and Jails Prepare for COVID-19?
Bethany Young and Katie Robinson
Urban Institute, March 20, 2020
Mitigating the risk of COVID-19 for incarcerated people and correctional staff requires difficult but necessary strategies.

The Prison Research and Innovation Initiative
Urban Institute, March 2020
A comprehensive effort to build evidence and spur innovation to make prisons more humane, safe and rehabilitative environments.