The COVID-19 pandemic is an urgent and unsettling magnifier of longstanding racial injustices in the United States. These injustices are laid bare most profoundly in the United States’ prisons and jails, where one out of every five people has had COVID-19 and where the rate of infection is four times as high as the general population. It would be a mistake, however, to imagine prisons and jails as separate from society. The rampant infection and profound suffering under COVID-19 in carceral facilities serves as a major source of transmission into communities at-large, particularly Black, Indigenous, and Latinx communities.
This vicious cycle—largely unaddressed by criminal legal and other state apparatuses—continues unabated, leaving behind a social precedent that undercuts well-established epidemiological and public health research, basic human rights principles, and the imperatives racial justice and antiracism.
A number of advocates and experts stress that following structural changes are needed to address the above injustices. These structural changes include:
With these injustices and needed solutions in mind, the call to action for those in the research and policy space is three-fold:
Please join us in this effort.