Few states list incarcerated people in Phase 1 of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution

New study finds many states failed to prioritize inmates for vaccine distribution or left them out all together despite CDC guidelines

Turns out the interpretation of the terms of essential worker and critical populations are in the eye of the beholder. Forty-nine states went all sorts of different ways when choosing where to place incarcerated people and correctional workers in their vaccine rollout plans. A new study by the Prison Policy Institute looked at all states (Dec. 30, 2020)

  • Only SEVEN states explicitly list inmates in Phase 1: Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland., Nebraska, New Mexico, Pennsylvania.

  • Only 14 states explicitly list corrections staff in Phase 1: Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, West Virginia.

Context: An opinion piece by Emily Bazelon, the author of Charged, on why she thinks inmates should be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccinations. New York Times

Some states prioritized people who work in prisons and jails but left out the people held there.

The study also highlighted the possibility that jails and detention centers ran at a local level will fall through the cracks due to lack of oversight by states and difficulty of giving a second dose if a person is transferred, freed or bailed out.

Bottom line: Many states don’t list incarcerated people as critical populations even though they are infected at four times the rate of normal people and are twice as likely to die when they get sick.

COVID-19 resources: State policy changesNewsBureau of Prisons updatesState court changesPrison holistic self care and protection.

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