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Some States Are Cloaking Prison COVID Data

Oct. 27, 2021
In this article about the ways agencies are continuing to shield data about the impact of COVID-19 in prisons, Michele responds to TDCJ’s claim that it waits for autopsy results before reporting deaths in custody due to COVID. The article also highlights findings from, “Hidden Figures,” our report detailing a lack of data transparency regarding the impact of COVID-19 in state prisons, local jails and state-run juvenile facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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A Half-Million People Got COVID-19 in Prison. Are Officials Ready for the Next Pandemic?

June 30, 2021
“There’s a sense that COVID is over, that the pandemic is behind us, and that is just not the case,” Deitch said. “We have to remember that prisons and jails were hit so much harder than the outside communities were, and in many jurisdictions, they were late to provide vaccinations to incarcerated people.”
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As Pandemic Raged, COVID-19 Testing Was Rare In New York’s Youth Lockups

April 4, 2021
New York has not followed that recommendation, prompting University of Texas at Austin researchers to list the state among seven others that have done the least to shed light on COVID-19 inside facilities. Secrecy during the pandemic, they warned in their new “Hidden Figures” report, makes it “difficult to determine if juvenile corrections agencies are responding to the complex and unique needs of incarcerated youth.”
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Report gives Maine poor rating for COVID data transparency in prisons, jails, juvenile facilities

April 1, 2021
An investigation using data from Hidden Figures which gave Maine a D-minus grade for the transparency of its COVID-19 data in the state prison system, a D for data transparency in juvenile facilities and an F for transparency in the jail system.
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Inside Florida’s largest jails, few or no people vaccinated, and still no statewide plan

April 1, 2021
Florida news investigation using PJIL's Hidden Figures report to look at the state's ranking for transparency about COVID in incarceration facilities, including how it reported vaccination plans and the implementation of them.
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Report Finds ‘Troubling Lack Of Transparency’ About COVID-19 In U.S. Jails And Prisons

March 30, 2021
Austin’s NPR station features the “Hidden Figures” report. Michele and co-author William Bucknall, a PJIL student researcher, grade states on COVID data transparency, finding that Texas scores better than other states, but the bar is very low.
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Grading COVID-19 data inside prisons, jails and juvenile centers — where Texas ranks

March 29, 2021
Michele is quoted in this detailed description of findings from “Hidden Figures: Rating the COVID Data Transparency of Prisons, Jails, and Juvenile Agencies.”
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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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Why 4,998 died in U.S. jails without getting their day in court

Oct. 16, 2020
Seventeen states have no rules or oversight mechanisms for local jails, according to Reuters research and a pending study by Michele Deitch, a corrections specialist at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas. In five other low-population states, all detention facilities are run by state corrections agencies. The other 28 have some form of standards, such as assessing inmates’ health on arrival or checking on suicidal inmates at prescribed intervals. Yet those standards often are minimal, and in at least six of the states, the agencies that write them lack enforcement power or the authority to refer substandard jails for investigation.