Michele is interviewed on juvenile systems around the country manage their most challenging youth. “They’re just throwing up their hands and saying: ‘We’ve exhausted our options. We just don’t know what to do," Michele comments.
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.
PJIL Associate Director, Alycia Welch, is quoted in this article about the impact of COVID-19 on women in prisons and jails, with a particular focus on “The Pandemic Gender Gap Behind Bars,” a report Alycia and Michele wrote on this issue.
On the anniversary of Sandra Bland’s death at a Texas jail, PJIL Director, Michele Deitch, comments on the impact of COVID on the ongoing issue of rising incarceration rates and deaths of women inside jail facilities. The article cites the report about this issue that Michele and Alycia co-authored, “The Pandemic Gender Gap Behind Bars.” Advisory Committee Chair, Andrea Armstrong, is also quoted on the situation facing women in rural and small jail facilities.
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.
This report examines the distinct harms that women in custody experience during incarceration and highlights the ways in which correctional agencies’ COVID-19 restrictions are exacerbating those harms. The report recommends a set of gender-responsive approaches to COVID precautions in corrections facilities that would simultaneously strengthen public health and improve outcomes for women, their families, and communities.
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.
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.