Canary in the Coal Mine title over a large TDCJ badge superimposed over a set of prison bars, with a disposable face mask hanging off one of the bars.

Canary in the Coal Mine: A Profile of Staff COVID Deaths in the Texas Prison System

Feb. 22, 2022
This report reveals the devastating impact of the COVID pandemic on prison workers in Texas. We found that Texas has some of the worst COVID outcomes among prison staff in the country, even when controlling for size. What's more, in Jan 2021, the Texas prison agency stopped reporting deaths from COVID among people who are incarcerated, making it difficult to assess the true toll of the virus behind bars. The report suggests that deaths and infections among staff may be a proverbial “canary in the coal mine,” warning that the true impact of COVID in Texas prisons has yet to be fully revealed.
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Dead Man Waiting: A brief profile of deaths in Texas prisons among people approved for parole release

June 1, 2021
In a first-of-its-kind analysis, “Dead Man Waiting,” shows that while deaths among parole-approved people increased during the COVID period, this population was already dying in large numbers from other chronic health issues while awaiting release. The report was the subject of a full-length NBC News NOW story, featuring families of people who died after parole approval, as well as several other prominent news outlets.
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But Who Oversees the Overseers? The Status of Prison and Jail Oversight in the United States

May 6, 2021
Updating and expanding upon Michele’s 50-state inventory of prison oversight models published in 2010, this article provides background information about the nature, value, and history of correctional oversight; documents the shifting landscape and increasing momentum around the oversight issue over the last decade; and provides a comprehensive assessment of the state of prison and jail oversight in the US today.
Cover of Hidden Figures.

Hidden Figures: Rating the COVID Data Transparency of Prisons, Jails, and Juvenile Agencies

March 7, 2021
Using a grading rubric we developed from key metrics every state should be reporting with respect to COVID in correctional facilities, “Hidden Figures” reveals a troubling lack of transparency about data regarding the spread, toll and management of COVID-19 in state prisons, local jails and state-run juvenile facilities. The report also offers a set of recommendations on ways corrections agencies and state and local leaders could improve data transparency.
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Georgia legislators, citing Reuters report, want every jail death investigated

Jan. 25, 2021
Georgia ranks among 17 state governments with no mechanism for oversight of local jails, according to research by Reuters and Michele Deitch, a corrections specialist at the University of Texas.
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Correcting Corrections: Lessons for Prisons and Jails in a Post-COVID World

Jan. 4, 2021
The ultimate lesson of the COVID crisis in our prisons and jails is this: Addressing the issues it has surfaced is not just a good idea, it is a moral imperative. We need to have the vision and courage to correct corrections and work toward a system that is more worthy of our values and ideals—one that uses a public health lens to help build resiliency. For that is the true underpinning of a safer community.
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Locked Out, Looking In: How Correctional Oversight Agencies are Adapting During the COVID Crisis

Nov. 30, 2020
The creative strategies that oversight bodies have been using to gather information about what is happening behind bars during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Report from UT Austin show how hard COVID hit TX prisons

Nov. 17, 2020
A new report from researchers at the Lyndon B Johnson School of Public Affairs paints a clear picture of how the virus has been ravaging inmate populations in the states prison and jail systems. “What we found was just stunning to us,” said Alycia Welch.
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Hundreds have died from COVID-19 in Texas jails and prisons — some while awaiting trial

Nov. 16, 2020
Author of new report on prison death rates calls on state to release inmates who pose no risk to safety
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At Least 231 People In Texas Jails And Prisons Have Died From COVID-19, Study Finds

Nov. 15, 2020
At least 231 people in Texas prisons and jails have died from COVID-19, including 27 staff members, 14 people in jail and 190 people in prison, according to a new report from researchers at the University of Texas at Austin.