Given the difficulties of social distancing in prisons, jails, and immigration detention facilities — as well as the lack of proper sanitation, personal protective equipment, and medical care — incarcerated individuals were already at a much greater risk of COVID-19.
That said, despite emergency amendments aimed at depopulating overcrowded prisons, as the pandemic continues on, rates of infection have made an alarming jump in recent weeks.
While infection rates have remained relatively stable nationwide, incarcerated populations continue to be disproportionately affected by the outbreak. According to a new report from The New York Times, the death rate in mass incarceration facilities has increased by 73% since mid-May — resulting in over 600 COVID-19 related deaths, as well as an infection rate that's doubled in the past month to over 65,000 cases.
And though public health officials speaking to the publication said that there isn't a obvious strategy to stymy the affects of the pandemic within prisons, as community organizers like Free Them All 4 Public Health have pointed out, "The only acceptable response to COVID-19 is complete decarceration."
In light of this disturbing news, there are several avenues of action you can take to help advocate for incarcerated people — whether it be contacting your elected officials, donating to organizations focused on this issue, and lending your support to current bail reform initiatives.
For more specifics on what exactly you can do, see our guide to aiding incarceration people during the pandemic, here.