Alliance for Pandemic Preparedness

October 27, 2020

Decarcerating Correctional Facilities during COVID-19



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The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine published a report of best practices for implementing decarceration (release of inmates and detainees) as a strategy to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in correctional facilities. Recommendations include diverting individuals from incarceration by avoiding pre-trial detention and prioritization of non-custodial penalties. They advise correctional officials to work with public health officials to assess optimal population levels of their facilities to support adherence to public health guidelines. They suggest identifying candidates for release from prison or jail in a manner that considers medical vulnerability and risk of committing a serious crime and incorporating COVID-19 testing and services at release such as housing, health care, and income supports. They recommend that all correctional facilities report key COVID-19 indicators like cases, testing rates, and that these are monitored by state and federal research infrastructures.

Wang et al. (2020). Decarcerating Correctional Facilities during COVID-19.