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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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.”
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.