Jail populations fueled pandemic cases

Releasing people from jail nationwide would have prevented millions of covid cases, according to a new study from the JAMA Network

We go to JAMA Network for this week’s study, “Association of Jail Decarceration and Anticontagion Policies With COVID-19 Case Growth Rates in US Counties” by Eric Reinhart and Daniel L. Chen.

“Epidemic control depends not only on emergent responses but also on longer-term policy determinants of public health vulnerability.”

  • 80%: the reduction in U.S. jail populations that would have led to a 2% reduction in daily COVID cases

“Public investment in a national program of large-scale decarceration and reentry support is an essential policy priority for reducing racial inequality and improving US public health and safety, pandemic preparedness, and biosecurity.”

  • 8 times: the increased drop in above median population counties’ COVID growth rates if they released people from jails 

  • 5.5 times: the increase risk for people behind bars of contracting COVID-19 than those in the general US population

  • 3 times: the COVID-19 mortality rate for inside compared to the general population

  • 55%:  the weekly inmate turnover rate in jail populations

  • 650,000: people on average held in U.S jails 

  • 220,000: the nationwide full-time jail staff who must commute back and forth from inside to the outside community 

“Results suggest that the globally unparalleled system of mass incarceration in the US, which is known to incubate infectious diseases and to spread them to broader communities, puts the entire country at distinctive epidemiologic risk.”

Read the whole study here


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

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A guest post by
Natalie is a Graphic Design/Data Visualization Intern for The Des. She is a graduate of Oberlin College, who is currently working as a Social Media Manager for Mission Created.
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