Most states have statutes that allow incarcerated people to earn time off of their sentences. Why aren't more states using this tool to safely reduce prison populations during COVID-19?

by Emily Widra and Wanda Bertram, January 12, 2021

With the COVID-19 infection rate in prisons four times that of the general U.S. population, public health and medical experts are urging prisons to reduce their populations to save lives. But governors and corrections officials are still passing the buck — almost a year into the pandemic. Overlooking existing mechanisms that could be used to release people, states have instead imposed a number of policy changes that have caused further harm to the incarcerated people they are supposed to protect:

  • Correctional agencies have suspended programs, classes, and other valuable resources for incarcerated people. Not only does suspending programming make life in prison more difficult; it also slows down upcoming releases: People who have been approved for parole are still waiting behind bars to complete programs required for their release.
  • Shockingly, despite clear evidence that solitary confinement is not a suitable replacement for medical isolation or quarantine, the use of solitary confinement has increased 500% during the pandemic.
  • Visitation has been limited or completely suspended in all 50 states and the federal prison system, and only some states have provided free video and phone calls while visitation is suspended.
  • Prison systems have delayed thousands of releases scheduled for 2020, scrambling to balance the need for fewer people behind bars with the need to connect people to community health resources if they have been exposed to COVID-19 prior to release.
  • Transfers have slowed, and in some places, completely halted to prevent the spread of COVID-19 between facilities. As a result, people have been stuck in limbo at transitional facilities that are not designed to house people for months at a time, or imprisoned in higher security facilities than are necessary.
  • Corrections staff are reprimanding incarcerated people for inadequate social distancing, even though maintaining physical distance from others is impossible in prison.

What states need now is a simple, equitable way of getting lots of people out of prison safely, rather than continuing to incarcerate them in ever more dangerous and cruel conditions. A solution — albeit one that will require legislative action in most states — is for states to immediately change their “good time” policies.

Good time” — also called “earned time,” “meritorious credit,” or similar — is a system by which people in prison can earn time off their sentences. States award time “credits” to incarcerated individuals to shorten the time they must serve before becoming parole-eligible or completing their sentences altogether. Good time systems vary between states (see the National Conference of State Legislatures’ detailed table) but time credits are often given out for participating in programs. For example, New York offers a six-month credit for completion of the GED. 26 states have a good time program that offers credits for certain educational programs and attainments, while 23 states offer credits for vocational training, 17 for participation in mental health or substance abuse treatment, 16 for work, 21 for other programming, and five for participating in disaster response (like firefighting). Almost none of these kinds of programs are being offered consistently during the pandemic, effectively eliminating the option for incarcerated individuals to reduce their sentences while in prison during COVID-19.

People in prison can also often earn time off their sentences by complying with prison rules. During the pandemic, people in prison have had to comply with much stricter rules than usual, including lockdowns that subject entire prisons to conditions “akin to solitary confinement.” Yet most have not been rewarded with additional “good time” for compliance with these harsher conditions.

Rather than holding people back from accruing good time credits during the pandemic, states should give out more of those credits, not just because it’s the fair thing to do but because it will allow some people to leave prison immediately. At least one state — New Jersey — has already used time credits to get people safely out of prison, with impressive results.

In October, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed Bill No. 2519 into law to shorten sentences and allow for early releases during the COVID-19 crisis. The bill mobilized “public health emergency credits” and “compliance credits” to shorten sentences, similar to the way good time credits can reduce sentence lengths. Almost immediately after the bill was implemented, more than 2,000 people were released from New Jersey state prisons, signifying one of the first large-scale releases during COVID-19. Because large-scale releases do not inherently threaten public safety, more states should consider using good time or similar earned credit policies to reduce the number of people behind bars significantly.

Changing good time policies has advantages over other mechanisms that states can use to release people. For example, 16 states have revoked the right to parole for most people in prison (the disastrous result of Truth in Sentencing laws). These states should bring back parole as soon as possible, but in the meantime, they can use good time credits to hasten decarceration. Awarding more good time credits is also efficient, as it leads to immediate release for people who were already close to their release dates anyway.

It is likely that other states will also have to pursue these efforts through new legislation, which is not ideal during a public health crisis. But New Jersey has demonstrated is that it is possible to enact such a bill quickly (Bill No. 2519 was passed in mid-October, and the 2,000 people were released shortly after, during the first week of November).

New Jersey’s release of thousands of incarcerated people is a good start, but states looking to use their legislation as an example should expand upon the work New Jersey began. For example, the New Jersey legislation excludes people who are serving sentences for specific offenses and only applies to people who are within a year of their scheduled release dates. States should award credits to shorten the sentences of all people incarcerated during COVID-19, regardless of offense type or sentence length.

Specifically, we recommend that state prison systems with existing good time systems make these permanent reforms immediately:

  1. Grant additional good time credits to all incarcerated people for serving time during the pandemic.
  2. At a minimum, people who would be earning good time through a program that has been suspended during the pandemic should be credited with that time, since they lost the opportunity through no fault of their own.
  3. Expand eligibility to all incarcerated people, regardless of offense type or sentence length.
  4. Refrain from revoking good time credits that people in prison have already accrued, except for the most serious of offenses.
  5. Protect good time that people have already earned by making time earned credits vested and immune from forfeiture after five years.

States that do not have systems that allow people to earn time off their sentences should create those systems, and give all incarcerated people a meaningful opportunity for release. Good time is one of the most effective mechanisms that states can use to release incarcerated people in a timely manner (we wrote about the other seven in our report Eight Keys to Mercy). As a pandemic continues to turn prison sentences into death sentences, it has never been more urgent that state prison systems strengthen their levers of mercy.


Trump administration proposes to prohibit banks from considering morality when making loans to the prison industry. We say no.

by Stephen Raher, December 31, 2020

Why do bank regulators care about the private prison industry? Most people would probably respond “they don’t,” and that answer would have been correct until a few months ago when the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”) proposed a troublesome new rule on bank lending.

In recent years, numerous social justice movements have used public education and advocacy to successfully persuade banks to stop financing certain industries like fossil fuel extraction, gunmakers, and private prison companies. In response to these generally beneficial movements, the OCC (an obscure but powerful federal agency) has proposed a rule that would prohibit federally chartered banks from considering non-quantitative aspects of a borrower’s business when making lending decisions. In other words, banks could no longer just say “we have moral or ethical problems with a certain industry and will not lend to such companies anymore.” An excellent general background and commentary on the rule can be found in this blog post by Prof. Adam Levitin (Georgetown Law School).

To be sure, private prisons are an unfortunate development, but the Prison Policy Initiative generally agrees with the assessment of Prof. Ruth Wilson Gilmore that the private prison industry receives disproportionate attention. Like Prof. Gilmore, we agree that private prisons are bad actors, but they do not drive policy and they represent a small sliver of the enormous system of mass incarceration. Still, the OCC’s proposed rule bothers us. We may not prioritize campaigns aimed at the private prison industry, but if our allies want to undertake that work, they should be able to. Plus, some of those campaigns have been successful, and those victories benefit everyone by chipping away at an indefensible and immoral industry.

thumbnail of our comments to the OCC opposing new bank rules So, we decided to speak up. On December 30, joined by a great group of allies (American Friends Service Committee, Beneficial State Foundation, Families Belong Together, Human Rights Defense Center, In the Public Interest, Make the Road New York, MomsRising, Presente.org, and Worth Rises), we submitted comments in opposition to the proposed rule. With the imminent change in presidential administration, we are hopeful that this bad idea can nipped in the bud.

 


At the end of an otherwise disappointing session of Congress, the inclusion of incarcerated people in the stimulus program is a small ray of hope.

by Stephen Raher, December 30, 2020

For readers with questions

Details are still coming out about how this new round of stimulus payments will be sent to incarcerated people. As we learn more, we’ll update this article, but we can’t answer individual questions to help readers get their payments. In the meantime, we offer a few suggestions:

  • People in prison who did not receive the stimulus payment (first or second) may be able to claim the payments by filling out a 1040 tax form and mailing it to the IRS. Some prisons are making the form available upon request.
  • The IRS’s Get My Payment tool and FAQ, as well as the IRS’s detailed press release about the new round of payments, might be helpful.
  • The National Consumer Law Center has published a helpful FAQ.
  • The law firm Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, which brought the successful California lawsuit about incarcerated people qualifying for stimulus checks, has a webpage with useful information that may be updated soon.

In the wake of the recently passed stimulus bill, many Americans are complaining about the paltry direct payments of $600. Without detracting from Congress’s failure to support the millions of people who need help, it is worth pausing to acknowledge one unexpected victory in the bill: It contains no prohibition on stimulus payments for incarcerated people.1

The previous stimulus bill, passed in March, took some people by surprise by not making incarcerated people ineligible for direct cash payments. The IRS made an ill-advised (not to mention unauthorized) attempt to exclude incarcerated people, but this policy was slapped down by the federal courts. As we wrote previously, because Congress did not exclude people in prison or jail, the IRS had no choice but to issue the payments to incarcerated people who otherwise qualified. Others who made this same argument ultimately prevailed in court and incarcerated people began to receive stimulus checks.

In July, when Congress first started to consider a subsequent round of stimulus, the Senate Finance Committee proposed legislative language that would exclude incarcerated people from receiving funds (both going forward and retroactively). The fact that no such language appears in the bill passed in December suggests that this issue was probably the subject of actual negotiation.

It’s a good thing that Congress stuck to the policy of including incarcerated people in the pool of eligible recipients. Even before the pandemic, day-to-day life in prison and jail was getting expensive, with commissary charges for basic food and hygiene items, and increasingly common pay-to-play e-book and music programs. But the COVID-19 crisis has brought communications costs (phone, video, and electronic messaging) into sharp contrast. In the many facilities that have suspended in-person visits, phone and video are now essential services (which come with a price tag). When incarcerated people lack the money needed to pay for basic health and communications items, the financial burden typically falls on their loved ones on the outside who may have to sacrifice basic needs to support family members in prison.

The second round of stimulus payments will help people pay for basic necessities in prison or jail, and perhaps begin saving to cover expenses upon release from custody. At the end of an otherwise disappointing session of Congress, the inclusion of incarcerated people in the stimulus program is a small ray of hope.


Footnotes

  1. Another prison-related victory, the restoration of Pell grants for people in prison, is also worth noting, although that’s a topic for a different blog post.

     ↩


Our December survey of medical co-pay policies shows that some states are reinstating medical co-pays as COVID-19 continues to spread in prisons.

by Tiana Herring, December 21, 2020

Despite a record number of new COVID-19 cases in prisons this month, some state departments of correction are already starting to roll back necessary suspensions of medical co-pays. Prior to the pandemic, most prison systems charged incarcerated people between $2 and $5 for each medical appointment — a fee that can make attaining medical care burdensome or impossible. In March, we found that many states had relaxed these policies in response to the pandemic, either suspending all medical co-pays, or suspending those for respiratory or flu-like symptoms. But in a follow-up survey of medical co-pay policies, we found that since March, three states have made their policies more restrictive in the middle of the pandemic.

Arkansas, Idaho, and Minnesota had previously suspended all co-pays as of March, but have since reinstated co-pays for non-flu-like symptoms. They are now among 29 states that currently suspend co-pays only for visits involving respiratory, flu-related, or COVID-19 symptoms — a policy that discourages many from seeking treatment. Even worse, Nevada has continued to charge co-pays throughout the pandemic, regardless of symptoms.

Meanwhile, three states have improved their policies since March: New Jersey has suspended all medical co-pays, and Delaware and Hawaii suspended co-pays for those with flu-like symptoms.

Most states are still charging medical co‑pays in prisons
despite the ongoing pandemic

Table created December 14, 2020. We welcome updates from states that have revised their policies. States can contact us at virusresponse@prisonpolicy.org.
*Five states — Arizona, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nevada, and South Carolina — did not respond to our survey or to repeated follow-up inquiries requesting updated medical co-pay information.
States that do not charge co‑pays States that have suspended all co‑pays for incarcerated people in response to the COVID‑19 pandemic States that have suspended co‑pays for respiratory, flu-related, or COVID‑19 symptoms States that have not made any changes in co‑pay policy regarding COVID‑19 pandemic
California Alabama Alaska Nevada*
District of Columbia Connecticut Arizona*
Illinois Louisiana* Arkansas
Missouri Maryland Colorado
Montana Massachusetts Delaware
Nebraska New Jersey Florida
New Mexico Rhode Island Georgia
New York Tennessee Hawaii
Oregon West Virginia Idaho
Vermont Indiana
Virginia Iowa
Wyoming Kansas
Kentucky*
Maine
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
New Hampshire
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Pennsylvania
South Carolina*
South Dakota
Texas
Utah
Washington
Wisconsin

Before the pandemic prompted these suspensions, all but 11 states charged medical co-pays. While a $2 to $5 co-pay may not seem like much to a “free world” worker, unconscionably low wages in prisons make even the lower medical co-pays entirely too expensive. Because incarcerated people typically earn 14 to 63 cents per hour, these charges are the equivalent of charging a free-world worker $200 or $500 for a medical visit.

Currently, most states are suspending co-pays for flu-like or respiratory symptoms. But this is not enough to ensure that people are comfortable seeking treatment, and thereby preventing the spread of the virus. As we’ve seen over the course of the pandemic, not all COVID-19 symptoms fall within these vague categories – and many people don’t display symptoms at all. And some states, such as Indiana, have implemented policies that charge co-pays to those who “disingenuously” report symptoms. Policies like these could lead people to hold off on seeking care until their symptoms become more severe. What’s more, it’s likely harder than ever for many incarcerated people to afford medical copays, due to possible loss of paid work for themselves and their loved ones.

Prisons should instead enact policies that mirror the outside world, where people are encouraged to get tested often and carefully monitor their symptoms to prevent outbreaks. Suspending medical co-pays for everyone for the duration of the pandemic – or better yet, beyond the pandemic, as 11 states and D.C. have already done – is a necessary step departments of corrections should take to attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19 in prisons.


As states mandate reducing the capacity of public spaces to slow the spread of COVID-19, we collect the data to show just how overcrowded almost every state prison system still is.

by Emily Widra, December 21, 2020

Before the pandemic, nine state prison systems and the BOP were operating at 100% capacity or more. These prison systems were holding more people than their facilities were designed to house. Now, 10 months into the pandemic, we find that there are still far too many people crowded into prisons across the country.1 Despite the ongoing pandemic, and efforts to reduce the number of people behind bars, we calculated that 41 states are currently operating at 75% or more of their capacity, with at least nine of those state prison systems and the federal Bureau of Prisons are still operating at more than 100%. Only one state — Maine — has a current prison population below 50% of their capacity.2

Gauging overcrowding in state prison systems during the pandemic

No matter which measure of capacity you use, most states have way too many people confined in facilities
that were designed for far fewer people.

For this analysis, we collected the most recent population data available from state departments of corrections and the Bureau of Prisons and we calculated how full the 48 state prison systems and the federal Bureau of Prisons currently are, based on the rated, operational, and design capacities that state and federal officials reported to the Bureau of Justice Statistics for the report, Prisoners in 2019. (We calculated current levels based on each of these three capacity metrics, and reported the highest and lowest results. Two states, Connecticut and Ohio, did not report capacity data to BJS and are therefore not included.) For population counts and reported capacities, see the appendix table below.
Prison system Current operating level based on lowest reported capacity Current operating level based on highest reported capacity As of this date:
Alabama 153% 86% Sept. 2020
Alaska 85% 82% May 1, 2020
Arizona 98% 85% Dec. 2, 2020
Arkansas 103% 99% Sept. 2020
California 110% 78% Dec. 2, 2020
Colorado 117% 105% End of Nov. 2020
Delaware 125% 91% May 1, 2020
0% 0% x
Federal 103% 103% Dec. 3, 2020
Florida 106% 106% May 1, 2020
Georgia 87% 75% Dec. 4, 2020
Hawaii 120% 119% Nov. 30, 2020
Idaho 118% 118% May 1, 2020
Illinois 69% 64% Sept. 30, 2020
Indiana 83% 83% Nov. 1, 2020
Iowa 105% 105% Dec. 4, 2020
Kansas 88% 85% Dec. 3, 2020
Kentucky 80% 80% Dec. 4, 2020
Louisiana 92% 84% July 1, 2020
Maine 73% 49% Nov. 30, 2020
Maryland 91% 91% Dec. 31, 2019
Massachusetts 93% 69% Nov. 30, 2020
Michigan 94% 92% May 1, 2020
Minnesota 78% 78% Nov. 30, 2020
Mississippi 110% 110% Nov. 30, 2020
Missouri 85% 83% May 1, 2020
Montana 214% 121% Dec. 3, 2020
Nebraska 158% 117% Jan‑March 2020
Nevada 117% 80% Nov. 29, 2020
New Hampshire 117% 77% Nov. 1, 2020
New Jersey 110% 80% May 1, 2020
New Mexico 125% 90% Dec. 31, 2019
New York 71% 70% Dec. 1, 2020
North Carolina 84% 78% Dec. 4, 2020
North Dakota 97% 97% Dec. 4, 2020
Oklahoma 87% 78% Nov. 30, 2020
Oregon 95% 89% July 1, 2020
Pennsylvania 85% 77% Dec. 4, 2020
Rhode Island 63% 60% May 1, 2020
South Carolina 73% 73% Dec. 4, 2020
South Dakota 75% 75% Oct. 31, 2020
Tennessee 126% 84% Nov. 2020
Texas 101% 97% May 1, 2020
Utah 84% 80% Sept. 4, 2020
Vermont 88% 87% Dec. 4, 2020
Virginia 86% 86% Oct. 2020
Washington 95% 95% Sept. 2020
West Virginia 111% 105% May 1, 2020
Wisconsin 121% 89% Nov. 27, 2020
Wyoming 98% 94% Sept. 30, 2020

Prison overcrowding has always been a serious problem, correlated with increased violence, lack of adequate health care, limited programming and educational opportunities, and reduced visitation. But during the current pandemic, overcrowded prisons — and even prisons operating at levels approaching capacity — are more deadly than ever. In a recent study of Texas prison capacity, COVID infection rates, and mortality, researchers found that prisons holding between 94 and 102% of their capacity had higher infection rates and more deaths than prisons operating at 85% of their total capacity, suggesting that a prison’s crowdedness correlates with viral spread.3 This makes sense when we consider that many state and local governments have mandated restaurants, retail spaces, and schools to operate at a reduced capacity to slow the spread of COVID-19 through communities.

Public health and medical experts have recommended decarceration since the beginning of the pandemic, arguing that fewer people behind bars would protect those who remain incarcerated and correctional staff, as well as slow the spread of COVID-19 in surrounding communities. But even as many prison populations slowly decrease in response to the pandemic, there is still not enough space inside most prisons to allow for adequate social distancing or medical isolation and quarantine. Prisons were not designed to address a public health crisis, and even before COVID-19 entered the picture, public health officials knew that correctional and detention settings were breeding grounds for all sorts of communicable diseases.

Throughout the country, states and the federal system have failed to carry out major prison reductions, leaving prisons operating at, close to, or even above their stated capacities. This contributes to deadly outcomes, as close quarters and high rates of preexisting health conditions among incarcerated people exacerbate the crisis behind bars. As a result, our crowded state and federal prisons have a COVID-19 case rate four times higher, and a death rate twice as high as in the general population.

 
 

Footnotes

  1. There are three accepted ways to measure prison system capacity. Some states chose to report one, two, or all three of these capacity measures to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. According to the definitions used in Prisoners in 2019, the three major capacity measurements can be defined as:

    • Rated capacity: the number of people or beds a facility can hold, as set by a rating official;
    • Operational capacity: The number of people a facility can hold based on staffing and services;
    • Design capacity: The number of people a facility can hold, as set by the architect or planner.

    These three stated capacities can vary greatly within a state. For example, the BJS reports that the design capacity of the Alabama prison system (set by the architect or planner) is 12,412 people, while the operational capacity (based on staffing and service levels) is 22,231 people. In its report, the BJS calculated what percentage of the capacity each jurisdiction was operating at for each of the three definitions of capacity. In a state like Alabama, this can create a wide range — the BJS calculated that in December 2019, the state was operating at 98% of capacity, based on the stated operational capacity, and 176% based on the stated design capacity. But by any measure, there are too many people in Alabama’s prisons for a pandemic.

     ↩

  2. When drawing these conclusions about the current crowding in prisons, we used the highest of the various stated capacities for each jurisdiction (rated, operational, and design), which, in turn, resulted in the lowest percentage of capacity. In the following table, we provide the percentage of the current populations for both the highest capacity and the lowest capacity metrics, as reported in the Bureau of Justice Statistics.  ↩

  3. The article summarizing these findings is a preprint and has not yet been peer-reviewed.  ↩

 
 

Appendix: State and federal prison system populations, capacities, and data sources

This table shows the different capacities reported by prison systems (rated, operational, and design) and the December 31, 2019 prison populations as reported in the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prisoners in 2019 report and the most recent population data available from individual departments of corrections.

Reported capacity and population for Arizona, Georgia, and South Dakota include private prisons. All other states do not include capacity and custody counts for private prisons. Because the November 2020 population data from the Tennessee Department of Corrections includes private prisons, we replaced the BJS reported population and operational capacity with data reported by the TDOC that includes private prisons.
Prison system Prison system capacity (Bureau of Justice Statistics) Population and percentage of capacity, Dec. 31, 2019 (Bureau of Justice Statistics) Population and percentage of capacity, most recent date in 2020
Rated Operational Design Dec. 31, 2019 custody population Lowest capacity Highest capacity Most recent custody population Lowest capacity Highest capacity Date of most recent population Population source
Alabama 22,231 12,412 21,802 176% 98% 19,014 153% 86% Sept. 2020 Alabama Department of Corrections, Monthly Reports
Alaska 4,838 4,664 4,346 93% 90% 3,985 85% 82% May 1, 2020 Vera Institute of Justice, People in Prison, 2019 (via public information request)
Arizona 38,872 45,091 38,872 42,441 109% 94% 38,123 98% 85% Dec. 2, 2020 Arizona Department of Corrections, COVID-19 Dashboard
Arkansas 16,335 16,374 15,767 15,742 100% 96% 16,215 103% 99% Sept. 2020 Arkansas Department of Corrections, Board Report
California 125,465 89,663 121,062 135% 97% 98,367 110% 78% Dec. 2, 2020 California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation, Weekly Report of Population
Colorado 14,691 13,145 15,689 119% 107% 15,368 117% 105% End of Nov. 2020 Colorado Department of Corrections, End-of-Month Inmate Population
Connecticut 12,274 9,249 Dec. 4, 2020 State of Connecticut Office of Policy and Management, Total Correctional Facility Population Count
Delaware 5,514 5,566 4,062 5,049 124% 91% 5,081 125% 91% May 1, 2020 Vera Institute of Justice, People in Prison, 2019 (via public information request)
Federal Bureau of Prisons 134,133 147,404 110% 110% 138,776 103% 103% Dec. 3, 2020 Federal Bureau of Prisons, Population Statistics
Florida 87,514 82,282 94% 94% 92,574 106% 106% May 1, 2020 Vera Institute of Justice, People in Prison, 2019 (via public information request)
Georgia 59,649 51,806 54,620 105% 92% 44,996 87% 75% Dec. 4, 2020 Georgia Department of Corrections, Friday Report
Hawaii 3,487 3,527 3,527 3,550 102% 101% 4,183 120% 119% Nov. 30, 2020 Hawaii Department of Public Safety, End of Month Population Report
Idaho 7,651 8,422 110% 110% 9,028 118% 118% May 1, 2020 Vera Institute of Justice, People in Prison, 2019 (via public information request)
Illinois 44,824 48,157 37,746 84% 78% 30,888 69% 64% Sept. 30, 2020 Illinois Department of Corrections, Prison Population Data Sets
Indiana 29,019 26,952 93% 93% 24,203 83% 83% Nov. 1, 2020 Indiana Department of Corrections, Offender Population Report
Iowa 7,089 7,089 7,089 8,438 119% 119% 7,441 105% 105% Dec. 4, 2020 Iowa Department of Corrections, Daily Statistics
Kansas 9,784 10,102 9,858 9,784 100% 97% 8,582 88% 85% Dec. 3, 2020 Kansas Department of Corrections, Adult Population Report
Kentucky 12,563 12,563 12,563 12,220 97% 97% 10,019 80% 80% Dec. 4, 2020 Kentucky Department of Corrections, Statewide Population Report
Louisiana 17,956 16,344 16,764 15,042 92% 84% 15108 92% 84% July 1, 2020 Louisiana Department of Public Safety & Corrections, July 2020 Update
Maine 2,365 2,591 3,481 2,167 92% 62% 1,722 73% 49% Nov. 30, 2020 Maine Department of Corrections, In-State Facility Capacity and Population
Maryland 20,693 18,825 91% 91% 18,825 91% 91% Dec. 31, 2019 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prisoners in 2019, Table 17
Massachusetts 10,173 7,492 7,923 106% 78% 7,003 93% 69% Nov. 30, 2020 Massachusetts Department of Corrections, Weekly County Sheet
Michigan 40,037 39,257 38,053 97% 95% 36,980 94% 92% May 1, 2020 Vera Institute of Justice, People in Prison, 2019 (via public information request)
Minnesota 9,504 9,093 96% 96% 7,401 78% 78% Nov. 30, 2020 Minnesota Department of Corrections, Prison Population Since March 1, 2020
Mississippi 11,802 10,290 87% 87% 13,020 110% 110% Nov. 30, 2020 Mississippi Department of Corrections, Daily Inmate Population
Missouri 30,332 29,596 26,012 88% 86% 25,133 85% 83% May 1, 2020 Vera Institute of Justice, People in Prison, 2019 (via public information request)
Montana 2,012 1,935 1,142 1,985 174% 99% 2,440 214% 121% Dec. 3, 2020 Montana Department of Corrections, Secure Facility Population
Nebraska 4,807 3,535 5,546 157% 115% 5,601 158% 117% Jan-March 2020 Nebraska Department of Correctional Services, Quarterly Population Summary, Average Daily Population
Nevada 14,107 12,376 9,567 12,414 130% 88% 11,222 117% 80% Nov. 29, 2020 Nevada Department of Corrections, Stat Facts
New Hampshire 2,760 2,760 1,810 2,464 136% 89% 2,120 117% 77% Nov. 1, 2020 New Hampshire Department of Corrections
New Jersey 15,983 17,219 21,877 15,988 100% 73% 17,519 110% 80% May 1, 2020 Vera Institute of Justice, People in Prison, 2019 (via public information request)
New Mexico 3,418 4,764 4,278 125% 90% 4,278 125% 90% Dec. 31, 2019 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prisoners in 2019, Table 17
New York 50,121 50,315 49,593 43,515 88% 87% 35,353 71% 70% Dec. 1, 2020 New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, DOCCS Fact Sheet
North Carolina 39,012 36,226 34,480 95% 88% 30,376 84% 78% Dec. 4, 2020 North Carolina Department of Public Safety, Statistics
North Dakota 1,463 1,463 1,463 1,459 100% 100% 1,417 97% 97% Dec. 4, 2020 North Dakota Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation, Operational Capacity Daily Count
Ohio 43,572 44,245 Nov. 25, 2020 Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Correction, Weekly Population Count Reports
Oklahoma 17,549 19,614 17,549 18,758 107% 96% 15,305 87% 78% Nov. 30, 2020 Oklahoma Department of Corrections, Weekly Count
Oregon 14,712 15,612 14,712 14,412 98% 92% 13,956 95% 89% July 1, 2020 Oregon Department of Corrections, Population Demographics
Pennsylvania 51,157 46,359 44,871 97% 88% 39,246 85% 77% Dec. 4, 2020 Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, Daily Population Report
Rhode Island 3,989 3,790 3,977 2,587 68% 65% 2,395 63% 60% May 1, 2020 Vera Institute of Justice, People in Prison, 2019 (via public information request)
South Carolina 21,586 18,123 84% 84% 15,726 73% 73% Dec. 4, 2020 South Carolina Department of Corrections, Population Counts and Capacities
South Dakota 4,397 3,763 86% 86% 3,317 75% 75% Oct. 31, 2020 South Dakota Department of Corrections, End of Month Population
Tennessee 15,978 23,375 21,669 136% 93% 19,601 126% 84% Nov. 2020 Tennessee Department of Corrections, Bed Space and Operating Capacities Report
Texas 155,634 149,605 155,634 133,496 89% 86% 151,126 101% 97% May 1, 2020 Vera Institute of Justice, People in Prison, 2019 (via public information request)
Utah 6,771 7,127 5,102 75% 72% 5,719 84% 80% Sept. 4, 2020 Email correspondence with Utah Department of Corrections Public Information Officer Kaitlin Felsted
Vermont 1,546 1,546 1,568 1,396 90% 89% 1,368 88% 87% Dec. 4, 2020 Vermont Department of Corrections, Daily Population
Virginia 29,222 27,801 95% 95% 25,156 86% 86% Oct. 2020 Virginia Department of Corrections, Monthly Population Summary
Washington 16,976 17,882 105% 105% 16,183 95% 95% Sept. 2020 Washington State Department of Corrections, Fact Card
West Virginia 5,910 6,241 5,910 5,910 100% 95% 6,550 111% 105% May 1, 2020 Vera Institute of Justice, People in Prison, 2019 (via public information request)
Wisconsin 23,170 16,983 23,402 138% 101% 20,514 121% 89% Nov. 27, 2020 Wisconsin Department of Corrections, Weekly Population Reports
Wyoming 2,288 2,288 2,407 1,980 87% 82% 2,252 98% 94% Sept. 30, 2020 Wyoming Department of Corrections, Monthly Inmate Population Report


The study provides the first estimates of how prisons and jails led to more coronavirus infections, both inside and outside prisons.

December 15, 2020

Over half a million COVID-19 cases this summer were directly linked to mass incarceration, a new report from the Prison Policy Initiative and Professor Gregory Hooks shows. The study provides the first estimates of how prisons and jails — which are “super spreaders” of the virus — added to COVID-19 caseloads on the county, state, and national levels, including infections of people both inside and outside prisons.

“Our findings leave no doubt that locking up millions of people in this country in close quarters has led to mass sickness and death in 2020, both in and outside of prisons,” said Hooks. “This huge growth in COVID-19 cases isn’t the fault of incarcerated people; it’s the fault of tough-on-crime politicians who insist that mass incarceration is necessary to keep us safe.”

In the study, titled Mass Incarceration, COVID-19, and Community Spread, Hooks compared the population density of incarcerated people in U.S. counties to the growth in COVID-19 cases in those counties over the summer of 2020. To get a more direct measure of community spread across county lines, he also measured the impact on county caseloads from prison and jail populations held in nearby counties located within the same multi-county economic areas. The findings include:

  • At the county level: Over the summer of 2020, large prisons and jail populations within nonmetro counties (i.e. rural areas or those with small cities) directly contributed to higher COVID-19 caseloads in those counties.
  • At the regional level: COVID-19 caseloads grew much more quickly over the summer among counties in greater economic areas containing large prisons and jails.
  • At the national level: Mass incarceration led to more than half a million additional COVID-19 cases nationwide – or about 1 in 8 of all new cases – over the summer, including cases both inside and outside correctional facilities.

The report, written to be accessible to a general audience, includes graphics illustrating the major findings, as well as several tables listing the number of COVID-19 cases attributable to mass incarceration in the most heavily impacted states and economic areas. Additional appendix tables provide estimates of additional cases linked to incarceration for every county, economic area, and state in the U.S.

Preview of table showing the impact of mass incarceration on covid caseloads in 25 states.

As the report explains, prisons and jails offer ideal conditions for the transmission of the coronavirus and have had the largest COVID-19 outbreaks in the U.S. on most days in 2020. A team of epidemiologists predicted in April that mass incarceration would lead to hundreds of thousands of additional cases in the U.S. In June, the Prison Policy Initiative released a report with the ACLU showing that states were failing at the one effort likely to prevent such a tragedy: the safe reduction of prison and jail populations. As of mid-November, the Prison Policy Initiative has shown, prison and jail populations are still dangerously high.

“Now that we have the first national numbers showing how prisons and jails sped up the spread of COVID-19, lawmakers need to take action to depopulate these facilities, or we will see even more preventable cases and deaths linked to the conditions in prisons and jails,” said Prison Policy Initiative Research Director Wendy Sawyer, co-author of Mass Incarceration, COVID-19, and Community Spread. “Even though the COVID-19 vaccine is rolling out, it will be months before the virus stops cycling through correctional facilities, and the action states have taken so far has not been enough to slow it down. So far, we’ve seen that too many lawmakers don’t care enough about people in prison to take action on their behalf, but our findings show that failing to reduce prison populations during the pandemic has led to more people outside prison getting sick as well.”

The full report is available at https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/covidspread.html.


Some states are including correctional facilities in their rollout plans. All states and the BOP should do so - and put incarcerated people near the top of the list.

by Katie Rose Quandt, December 8, 2020

This article has been updated as various states update their vaccination plans. New details have been added for the plans in Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Pennsylvania. Our most recent update was on January 11.

As the approaching rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine brings hope of an eventual end to the pandemic, it also introduces ethical dilemmas. With various groups of Americans at heightened risk of exposure, and others at increased risk of severe cases, who should be vaccinated first?

By any reasonable standard, incarcerated people should rank high on every state’s priority list. The COVID-19 case rate is four times higher in state and federal prisons than in the general population — and twice as deadly. And despite the danger of close quarters and high rates of preexisting health conditions among incarcerated people, prisons and jails have widely failed to reduce their populations enough to prevent the spread of the virus. Since March, at least 227,333 people incarcerated in state and federal prisons have tested positive for COVID-19, and at least 1,671 have died. There have also been at least 56,496 cases and 105 deaths among prison staff.

The federal Bureau of Prisons announced in November that it plans to reserve its early allotments of the vaccinations for staff, not incarcerated people. Curious whether this was indicative of broader policy decisions, we investigated how states are planning to address incarcerated populations and corrections staff in their early rounds of vaccination, which may begin as soon as mid-December. To do so, we looked through all 49 publicly available draft vaccination proposal plans, which states were required to submit this fall using guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). (A complete plan from Minnesota was not available.)

In the draft proposals, states were encouraged to create three-phased plans for vaccine distribution, structured around availability of the vaccine. (Many states further subdivided the three phases into priority tiers, such as Phase 1A and Phase 1B):

  • Phase 1: Potentially Limited COVID-19 Vaccine Doses Available
  • Phase 2: Large Number of Doses Available; Supply Likely to Meet Demand
  • Phase 3: Likely Sufficient Supply

Which vaccination phase each state assigned to incarcerated people and corrections staff

Incarcerated People Corrections Staff
Specifically listed in Phase 1 (or a Phase 1 subdivision) 8 states:
Conn., Del., Ill., Mass., Md., Neb., N.M., Pa.
15 states:
Ark., Conn., Del., Ill., La., Maine, Mass., Md., Mo., Neb., Nev., N.M., N.C., Pa., W.Va.
Not specifically listed, but from the context might belong to Phase 1 No states 10 states:
Ala., Ariz., Calif., Idaho, Iowa, Mont., N.J., N.D., S.C., Va.
Specifically listed in Phase 1 or Phase 2, depending on age and comorbidities 1 state:
N.C.
No states
Plan was unclear, but from the context likely belong to Phase 1 or Phase 2 2 states:1
Calif., Ky.
2 states:
Ky., Wyo.
Specifically listed in Phase 2 19 states:
Ala., Ariz., Ga., Idaho, Ind., Iowa, Kan., La., Maine, Miss., N.H., N.D., Ohio, Okla., R.I., Tenn., Utah, Vt., Wash.
13 states:
Colo., Ga., Ind., Kan., Miss., N.H., Ohio, Okla., R.I., Tenn., Utah, Vt., Wash.
Not specifically listed, but from the context might belong to Phase 2 4 states:
N.J., Va., W.Va., Wyo.
No states
Not specifically listed, but might belong to Phase 3 (Note: Phase 3 also includes all general populations) 1 state:
Mo.
No states
Difficult to categorize (because the state did not follow the CDC’s 3 Phases) 4 states:2
Hawaii, Mont., Nev., N.Y.
2 states:3
Hawaii, N.Y.
Not included in any Phase (neither specifically nor implied through additional context) 10 states:
Alaska, Ark., Colo., Fla., Mich., Ore., S.C., S.D., Texas, Wisc.
7 states:
Alaska, Fla., Mich., Ore., S.D., Texas., Wisc.

We examined 49 state vaccine distribution proposals to see how the states directly or indirectly mentioned incarcerated people and corrections staff. For some states, the answer was obvious. Other states were not specific, but used references and terms that we concluded “probably” or “might” have been meant to include incarcerated people or staff. Of course, if our value judgements are incorrect for some of these states, that would mean that the states are not planning to prioritize incarcerated people or staff at all. Readers should use caution in comparing the different phase numbers between states for two reasons: Not all states used the federal government’s suggested three phases, and whether a later phase implies a longer wait for a vaccine is dependent upon how many people are in the earlier phases.4 The most important decision is whether incarcerated people and staff are mentioned at all. For the details from each state and a link to the original plan, see the appendix.

Our most positive finding is that 39 of the 49 states addressed (or seemed to address) incarcerated people as a priority group at all, in the original plans or in later updates. But in many states, correctional staff are prioritized before incarcerated people (staff were also more likely to receive PPE early in the pandemic).

Missouri, for example, placed corrections staff in Phase 1B, while implying incarcerated people would be in Phase 3, which is also when the state plans to vaccinate “every Missourian who qualifies and needs or wants a COVID-19 vaccine.” The Missouri proposal rationalized this plan by pointing to staff as the likely entry point of the virus into facilities, and claiming that the spread can be controlled inside facilities. “Inmates’ confined nature has been amenable to procedural controls to reduce the likelihood of correctional facility outbreaks,” the report states. “As a result, staff now represent the most likely source of a facility outbreak. Vaccination of corrections staff can vastly reduce this source of potential attacks.” The report did not cite any data or other reports supporting these claims. The Missouri Department of Corrections has reported 36 COVID-19 deaths among its incarcerated population since March, as well as four deaths of staff members.

Furthermore, in a New York Times opinion piece, Emily Bazelon argued that the BOP’s similar prioritization of staff over incarcerated people, especially older detainees, “seems dubious, epidemiologically and ethically, without evidence that staff vaccinations would be enough to stop the spread of infection.”


State plans are often unclear and not specific

It is important to note that many of the states were unclear and unspecific in their plans, making it difficult to determine their intent. For example, many states included a CDC-produced graphic that assigns “critical populations” to Phase 2. Some, but not all, of these states provided further explanation as to how they define “critical populations.” For instance, Illinois’ original plan immediately followed the graphic with an explanation of who falls within “critical populations,” specifically listing, “People who are incarcerated/detained in correctional facilities.” We categorized these states as putting incarcerated people in Phase 2, since the intent was clear. (Illinois has since moved incarcerated populations to Phase 1B.)

Other states were somewhat less clear. Virginia, for example, included the CDC chart without any additional context. Elsewhere in the report, however, incarcerated people were included on a list of critical populations. Although it is not completely clear whether this list can be linked directly to Phase 2 on the graphic (“critical populations” is used in varying contexts throughout the reports), this additional attention to incarcerated people led us to categorize these states as “probably” including incarcerated people in Phase 2.

Other states, however, simply included the graphic without further explanation as to what “critical populations” means in their plans. For example, Kansas included the CDC graphic, but did not specifically mention incarcerated populations as part of a priority group anywhere else in the report. Due to our government’s history of medical mistreatment of incarcerated and detained populations, we did not give these states the benefit of the doubt by assuming they intended to include incarcerated people among “critical populations.” However, when states implement their plans, they certainly should include incarcerated populations in the prioritized “critical populations” category. (And in fact, Kansas later updated its plan to include incarcerated people in Phase 2.)

Similarly, some states were unclear on whether they intended to prioritize corrections staff. The same CDC graphic includes “other essential workers” in Phase 1B. Some states specifically interpreted this to include corrections staff. Other states implied this might include corrections staff, by referring to a document from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), which provides an extensive list of who may be considered essential workers (that list includes corrections) — but without mentioning corrections workers specifically in their reports (in these cases, we labeled corrections staff as “Maybe Phase 1B”).

The appendix below includes explanations of how we categorized the states that did not explicitly place incarcerated people and staff into phases. Of course, if our judgement calls are incorrect in some instances, we may have listed a state as “maybe” or “probably” including these groups in a phase, when the state did not intend to assign a phase at all.

Another important point to note is that even among states that were specific, some used phrasing like “persons living in correctional facilities.” While we hope these states intend to prioritize those in jails and detention centers, as well as prisons, we cannot be sure — especially since there is a history of locally-operated jails falling through the cracks in state policy. And some states specifically excluded jails, such as New Mexico, which provided this explanation: “Because of the two-dose requirement, it may be difficult to ensure effective vaccination of facilities where people move in and out frequently such as homeless shelters and county adult detention centers. Two doses could be offered to inmates at state prisons and to adult residents at state and county juvenile justice centers.”

States should prioritize vaccinating those in county jails as well as prisons, both because jails can easily become COVID-19 hotspots, and because this is a way to reach large populations who might otherwise be missed.


Recommendations:

  • Incarcerated people and corrections staff should be prioritized for vaccination against COVID-19. States and the BOP should not consider vaccination of staff as sufficient to stop the spread of COVID-19 in correctional facilities.
  • Governors and state health officials should resist inevitable pressure to deprioritize incarcerated people. For example, earlier this month, when Colorado Gov. Jared Polis was questioned about his state’s decision to place incarcerated people in Phase 2A, ahead of some other vulnerable groups, he responded: “There’s no way it’s going to go to prisoners before it goes to the people who haven’t committed any crime.” This type of posturing violates the state’s duty to protect the health of people in its care, as well as to slow the spread of the virus in the places where it is poised to spread the fastest.
  • Prisons and jails should decarcerate. Since March, public health and medical officials have warned that the only way to protect incarcerated people (and limit the inevitable spread of the virus out of facilities and back into the community) is by drastically decreasing prison and jail populations. Prisons and jails have largely failed on this front.


Footnotes

  1. California indicated that incarcerated populations may fall in Phase 1. And Kentucky included conflicting charts that implied incarcerated populations would either be in Phase 1B or 2.  ↩

  2. Hawaii placed incarcerated people in Stage 2 of 4; Montana in Tier 3 of 5; Nevada in Tier 2 of 4; and New York implied incarcerated people would be in Phase 2 of 5.
     ↩

  3. Hawaii placed corrections staff in Phase 2 of 4; New York implied they would be in Phase 2 of 5. (Montana and Nevada also did not follow the CDC phases, but Montana implied corrections staff might be in Tier 1 of 5, and Nevada placed them in Tier 1 of 4, so they are included with the Phase 1 states listed earlier, because that is more clearly comparable.)  ↩

  4. For example, Maryland put incarcerated people in Phase 1, but that state’s Phase 1 was quite large, encompassing an estimated 14% of the state population.  ↩


Appendix: State COVID-19 Vaccination Distribution Plans

We examined 49 state vaccine distribution proposals to see how the states directly or indirectly mentioned incarcerated people and corrections staff. For some states, the answer was obvious. Other states were not specific, but used references and terms that we concluded “probably” or “might” have been meant to include incarcerated people or staff. Of course, if our value judgements are incorrect for some of these states, that would mean that the states are not planning to prioritize incarcerated people or staff at all. Readers should use caution in comparing the different phase numbers between states for two reasons: Not all states used the federal government’s suggested three phases, and whether a later phase implies a longer wait for a vaccine is dependent upon how many people are in the earlier phases. The most important decision is whether incarcerated people and staff are mentioned at all.
State Incarcerated people assigned a phase? Language about incarcerated people Corrections staff assigned a phase? Language about staff Source Updates
Alabama Phase 2 Phase 2 states: “ADPH will plan for the critical populations to include homeless, incarcerated, and uninsured persons.” Maybe Phase 1B Corrections staff are not specifically mentioned. Does use the CDC Phased Approach chart, which includes “Other essential workers” in Phase 1-B. Elsewhere, the report refers to CISA guideance on who falls into that category, which incudes corrections. State Plan
Alaska No Incarcerated people are not specifically mentioned. Phase 2 does say: “During this phase the Team will introduce outreach to critical populations and the general public who are able to receive the vaccine.” No Corrections staff are not specifically mentioned. Does state that during Phase 1B, “additional essential workers who have not received the vaccine in Phase 1A may be able to receive it.” State Plan
Arizona Phase 2 “People who are in correctional facilities/incarcerated” are listed in Phase 2. Maybe Phase 1B Corrections staff are not specifically mentioned, although “protective service occupations” do fall under Phase 1B. The report does use the CDC Phased Approach chart, which places “other essential workers” in Phase 1B. And it refers to CISA guideance on who may be considered essential workers, which incudes corrections. It also refers to the governor’s executive order outlining essential services, which also includes corrections. State Plan
Arkansas No “Residents of long-term care facilities and other congregate-living facilities” are listed in phase 2. However, since correctional staff are mentioned specifically, we cannot assume this includes incarcerated people. Phase 1B Phase 1B includes “Employees of state correctional facilities” (subsection: “essential workers at increased risk”). State Plan
California Probably Phase 1 or 2 In the phase 1 discussion: “Depending on prioritization guidelines, this phase may also include people in correctional facilities or other congregate living facilities.” This specific mention leads us to believe that if incarcerated populations are not ultimately included in Phase 1, they will be included in Phase 2, which will be used to “ensure vaccine access to all members of Phase 1 critical populations who were not yet vaccinated and also expand our communication efforts to broaden vaccination access to other groups of essential workers and groups at increased risk of COVID-19.” Probably Phase 1B Phase 1 includes “critical infrastructure workforce.” Elsewhere, the report says that critical infrastructure is based on guideance from the CISA list of critical occupations (which includes corrections). In addition, the report mentions that workforce data has been collected on corrections, and specifies that non-healthcare essential workers will fall in Phase 1-B. State Plan
Colorado No In the original plan, Phase 2A included “incarcerated adults.” However, Colorado later released updated guidelines. The new guidelines have fewer subcategories, and people living in congregate living spaces — including incarcerated people — are no longer specifically mentioned in any phase. This, combined with the fact that Gov. Jared Polis has verbally walked back the earlier placement of incarcerated people in Phase 2A, suggests that incarcerated people are no longer assigned to a specific phase. Phase 2 In the original plan, “correctional workers” were included in Phase 1B. However, Colorado later released updated guidelines, which have fewer specifics and fewer subcategories. Corrections workers are no longer mentioned specifically, but they should fall under “Workers serving people that live in high-density settings,” who are now listed in Phase 2. State Plan Updated State Vaccine Information
Connecticut Phase 1B In the original plan, incarcerated people were not specifically mentioned. After the release of the plan, Gov. Ned Lamont indicated that incarcerated people and staff in state prisons — as well as people in other congregate settings — belong to Phase 1B. Phase 1B The original plan was unclear on where corrections staff would belong, but seemed to suggest they would be in Phase 1B. After the release of the plan, Gov. Ned Lamont indicated that incarcerated people and staff in state prisons — as well as people in other congregate settings — belong to Phase 1B. State Plan ACLU of Connecticut Press Release
Delaware Phase 1 (Tier 1C) Phase 1 (Tier 1C) includes “Congregate care (Examples include- prison workers and inmates…).” Phase 1 (Tier 1C) Phase 1 (Tier 1C) includes “Congregate care (Examples include- prison workers and inmates…).” State Plan
Florida No No Corrections staff are not specifically mentioned. The report does say that, “During Phase 1, PODs may be designed to vaccinate first responders, law enforcement officers and essential employees.” It also says the CISA essential worker guidelines will be used in the development of vaccine strategies, but unlike some states, does not suggest that all essential workers will neccessarily be assigned to an early phase. State Plan
Georgia Phase 2 Phase 2 includes “Staff and individuals in jails, prisons, detention centers.” Phase 2 Phase 2 includes “Staff and individuals in jails, prisons, detention centers.” State Plan
Hawaii Stage 2 of 4 Stage 2 includes “People in prisons, jails, detention centers, and similar facilities, and staff who work in such settings.” Stage 2 of 4 Stage 2 includes “People in prisons, jails, detention centers, and similar facilities, and staff who work in such settings.” State Plan
Idaho Phase 2 “Correctional Facilities” are listed as a “Phase 2 organization type.” It also uses the CDC Phased Approach chart, which lists “critical populations” in Phase 2. Elsewhere, a list of critical populations includes “People who are incarcerated/detained in correctional facilities.” Probably Phase 1B Uses the CDC Phased Approach chart, which lists “other essential workers” in Phase 1-B. Elsewhere in the report, a list of “other essential workers” (and estimated counts) includes “Staff of correctional or detention facilities.” This specifically includes employees belonging to both the Idaho Department of Corrections and the Idaho Sheriff’s Association. State Plan
Illinois Phase 1B In the original plan, incarcerated people were included within “critical populations” in Phase 2. In an updated plan from December 31, “sheltered population, homeless/day programs, and inmates” are included within Phase 1B. Phase 1B In the original plan, corrections staff were not specifically mentioned, but it seemed like they might be included in Phase 1B. In an updated plan from December 31, correctional officers are specifically listed under “frontline essential workers” in Phase 1B. State Plan Updated State Vaccine Information
Indiana Phase 2 Phase 2 includes “persons living in correctional facilities.” Phase 2 Phase 2 includes “Corrections, other critical infrastructure workers, other congregate settings.” State Plan
Iowa Phase 2 “Local public health agencies are preparing for the following types of vaccination clinics in Phase 2: … Corrections (jails, prisons or other transitional correctional facilities)” Maybe Phase 1 Phase 1 includes “Non-healthcare worker critical workforce such as agriculture and food processing as well as other key critical infrastructure,” but does not mention corrections specifically. The report links to CISA guideance on who falls into that category, which incudes corrections. State Plan
Kansas Phase 2 In the original plan, Kansas mentioned “individuals living in congregate settings” as a critical population, but did not mention incarcerated people specifically. However, a later update specifically names correctional facilities as part of Phase 2, under “those living or working in licensed congregate settings and other special care or congregate environments where social distancing is not possible.” Phase 2 Corrections staff were not specifically mentioned in the original plan. However, a later update specifically names correctional facilities as part of Phase 2, under “those living or working in licensed congregate settings and other special care or congregate environments where social distancing is not possible.” State Plan Updated State Vaccine Information
Kentucky Either Phase 1B or Phase 2 Unclear. Two different attachments list incarcerated people in two different phases.

“Correctional Facility Residents” are listed in Phase 1B, as a “vulnerable population” in Attachment 4: Projected Vaccination Target Groups. (Rationale: “People who would prevent the risk of spread if vaccinated.”)

But elsewhere in the report (Attachment 3: Framework for Equitable Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine), “Incarcerated/detained people and staff” are listed as part of Phase 2. This chart notes that this combined population has a High Risk of Acquiring Infection, Medium Risk of Severe Morbidity and Mortality, Low Risk of Negative Societal Impact, and High Risk of Transmitting Infection to Others. “Mitigating Factors for Consideration” says: “Adequate access to personal protective equipment. Effective institutional/workplace management of exposure.”
Either Phase 1B or Phase 2 Unclear. Two different attachments list corrections staff in two different phases.

“Corrections Facilities workers” are listed in Phase 1B, as part of “critical infrastructure in Attachment 4: Projected Vaccination Target Groups. (Rationale: “Essential to public order and safety; Working conditions give them elevated risk of infection; close contact with people at very high risk of poor outcomes.”)

But elsewhere in the report (Attachment 3: Framework for Equitable Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine), “Incarcerated/detained people and staff” are listed as part of Phase 2. This chart notes that this combined population has a High Risk of Acquiring Infection, Medium Risk of Severe Morbidity and Mortality, Low Risk of Negative Societal Impact, and High Risk of Transmitting Infection to Others. “Mitigating Factors for Consideration” says: “Adequate access to personal protective equipment. Effective institutional/workplace management of exposure.”
State Plan
Louisiana Phase 2 Phase 2 includes “all incarcerated adults in Louisiana.” Phase 1B Phase 1B includes “Corrections Officers and Jailers.” This is further defined as “Includes state corrections officers, as well as parish and local jailers with direct exposure to the inmate/prisoner population.”

The report gives the following Justification: “Corrections officers and jailers are eligible for early vaccination for reasons similar to Congregate Care Facility personnel. They perform a job that is essential for continued societal function and care for a group of citizens who are in close quarters in a congregate setting. While not typically as at risk as their elderly counterparts in Congregate Care Facilities, many prisoners have underlying diseases that put them at increased risk as well. Similar to the rationale for distribution of limited vaccine in the Congregate Care Facility personnel, assuming inadequate supply for all personnel who fall in this category, prioritization based on community positivity rate is recommended, since the goal is to prevent personnel bringing the disease into the facility.”
State Plan
Maine Phase 2 Phase 2 includes “People in prisons, jails, detention centers, and similar facilities, and staff who work in such settings.” Phase 1B In the original plan, Phase 2 included “People in prisons, jails, detention centers, and similar facilities, and staff who work in such settings.” A December 29 update answering “frequently asked questions” specifically lists corrections officers as “frontline essential workers” in Phase 1B. State Plan Updated State Vaccine Information
Maryland Phase 1 Phase 1 includes “People in Prisons, Jails, Detention Centers and Staff” and the subgroup “Incarcerated/Detained Individuals.” Phase 1 Phase 1 includes “People in Prisons, Jails, Detention Centers and Staff” and the subgroup “Correctional Officers, Jailers, Support Staff.” State Plan
Massachusetts Phase 1 In the original plan, incarcerated people were not specifically mentioned. Later, on December 9, Massachusetts issued an update that includes “congregate care settings (including corrections and shelters)” in Phase 1. Phase 1 In the original plan, corrections staff were not specifically mentioned. Later, on December 9, Massachusetts issued an update that includes “congregate care settings (including corrections and shelters)” in Phase 1. The Baker administration indicated this would include staff as well as incarcerated people. State Plan Updated State Vaccine Information
Michigan No “High risk populations, and other critical populations” are listed in Phase 2, but incarcerated populations are not specifically included. No Corrections staff are not specifically mentioned. “Populations considered essential personnel” are listed in Phase 2. It further says: “Different categories of essential personnel have been identified and we continue to add to the list with additional critical infrastructure workers.” However, this list is not attached. State Plan
Mississippi Phase 2 Phase 2 includes “Inmates and Staff” in “Prison and Jails.” Phase 2 Phase 2 includes “Inmates and Staff” in “Prison and Jails.” State Plan
Missouri Probably Phase 3 “People living and working in congregate settings” are included in Phase 2. However, incarcerated populations are not specifically mentioned. And the state does not seem to expect to complete vaccination of incarcerated populations in Phase 2. Phase 3 discussion says: “Local public health authorities and the state health authority will target vaccination efforts toward the most vulnerable populations, such as… local incarcerated individuals…” This appears to mean that Missouri will give special attention to vaccinating incarcerated populations during Phase 3, which is also when the general population will be vaccinated. Phase 1B “Phase 1B includes “First Responders (Examples: non-hospital EMS, Law Enforcement Officers, Fire and Correction personnel).” It includes the following rationale: “Personnel within this category provide essential emergency services that mostly cannot be performed virtually. As a result of these duties, they have unavoidable potential exposures that threaten both their well-being and the community they cannot serve during illness. Accelerated economic recovery and the provision of essential government services require the performance of these duties.

Additionally, inmates’ confined nature has been amenable to procedural controls to reduce the likelihood of correctional facility outbreaks. As a result, staff now represent the most likely source of a facility outbreak. Vaccination of corrections staff can vastly reduce this source of potential attacks.”
State Plan
Montana Tier 3 of 5 “The report outlines five “tiers.” “People at increased risk of acquiring or transmitting Covid-19” belong to Tier 3. Elsewhere in the report, a list of “people at increased risk of aquiring and transmitting Covid-19” includes “People who are incarcerated/detained in correctional facilities.” Maybe Tier 1 of 5 Corrections staff are not specifically mentioned. Of the five tiers, Tier 1 includes “Critical infrastructure workforce,” which cites CISA guideance on who falls into that category, which includes corrections. However, the report specifies that if there is extremely short supply of the vaccine, law enforcement fall at the bottom of Tier 1. State Plan
Nebraska Phase 1B Phase 1-B includes “Incarcerated populations” (under “Vulnerable and Congregate populations”). Phase 1B Phase 1-B includes “Correctional Staff” (under category “Essential Critical Infrastructure workforce”). State Plan
Nevada Tier 2 of 4 In the original plan, “NDOC Inmates” were listed as #2 of 8 in “Tier 3: People at Increased Risk for Severe Illness or of Acquiring/Transmitting COVID-19.” However, an updated plan placed “NDOC Inmates” at the very bottom of “Tier 2: Critical Infrastructure Workforce by Priority Order” (incarcerated people are #15 of 15 in that tier). Tier 1 of 4 In the original plan, “Nevada Department of Corrections Staff” are listed specifically in Tier 1 of 4. (The plan does note, however, that Tier 1 will be vaccinated in priority order, as supply allows, and corrections staff are #9 of 10 on the priority order.) An updated plan issued later keeps NDOC staff in Tier 1: “Nevada Department of Corrections (NDOC) staff will be invited to closed vaccination events within their community and are included in Tier 1.” State Plan Updated State Vaccine Information
New Hampshire Phase 2 Uses the National Academy of Medicine recommendations, which list “people in prisons, jails, detention centers, and similar facilities, and staff who work in such settings” in Phase 2. Phase 2 Uses the National Academy of Medicine recommendations, which list “people in prisons, jails, detention centers, and similar facilities, and staff who work in such settings” in Phase 2. State Plan
New Jersey Probably Phase 2 “New Jersey intends to follow the CDC Phased Approach framework.” This framework includes “critical populations” in Phase 2. Elsewhere in the report, “Adults detained in correctional facilities or county jails” are included as a “critical population” under “Adults at higher risk for severe COVID-19 due to congregate living and/or working environments.” Probably 1B The report states that “New Jersey intends to follow the CDC Phased Approach framework.” This framework includes “other essential workers” in Phase 1-B, which further includes: “People who play a key role in keeping essential functions of society running and cannot socially distance in the workplace (e.g., emergency and law enforcement personnel not included in Phase 1-A…).” Elsewhere, the report cites CISA guideance on essential workers, which includes corrections. The report indicates that many of these essential workers will in fact be included in Phase 1B, when it estimates the number of “other essential workers,” including those in “Food & agriculture, transportation, education, energy, water, law enforcement, government, etc.” State Plan
New Mexico “Later Phase 1” (following Phase 1B) “Later Phase 1” targets include “Residents of other congregate care settings, prioritizing those with risk factors if doses remain limited.” It further species that this includes prisons but not jails: “Because of the two-dose requirement, it may be difficult to ensure effective vaccination of facilities where people move in and out frequently such as homeless shelters and county adult detention centers. Two doses could be offered to inmates at state prisons and to adult residents at state and county juvenile justice centers.” Phase 1B Phase 1B includes “correctional and juvenile justice healthcare providers and staff.” State Plan
New York Probably Phase 2 of 5 A chart outlining five phases includes in Phase 2, “those living in other congregate settings.” It does not mention incarcerated populations specifically, but the report further directs the reader to an appendix of “priority groups for more information on critical populations,” which does include “People who are incarcerated/detained in correctional facilities.” Probably Phase 2 of 5 A chart outlining five phases includes in Phase 2, “Other essential frontline workers that… retain critical infrastructure.” Elsewhere, “Correction/ Parole/ Probation Officers” are listed in an esstential workers chart, with the rationale, “Correction/ Parole/ Probation officers are important for public safety.” State Plan
North Carolina Phase 1B or Phase 2, depending on age & comorbidities “Incarcerated individuals with 2+ Chronic Conditions or > age 65” are listed in Phase 1B. “Incarcerated individuals without 2+ Chronic Conditions” are listed in Phase 2. Phase 1B Phase 1B specifies “jail/prison staff.” State Plan
North Dakota Phase 2 Phase 2 discussion says: “Additional congregate settings (group homes, corrections) will need to be vaccinated.” Maybe Phase 1 Corrections workers are not specifically assigned to a phase. Vaccinations of staff and residents at correctional facilities are mentioned in the report. And essential workers are referenced within Phase 1, and elsewhere the report refers to CISA guideance as a reference on who is essential (which lists corrections). State Plan
Ohio Phase 2 Phase 2 includes “People and staff in prisons, jails, detention centers.” Phase 2 Phase 2 includes “People and staff in prisons, jails, detention centers.” State Plan
Oklahoma Phase 2 Phase 2 includes “Staff and residents in congregate locations and worksites (including but not limited to homeless shelters, group homes, prisons/jails, and manufacturing facilities with limited social distancing capacity).” Phase 2 Phase 2 includes “Staff and residents in congregate locations and worksites (including but not limited to homeless shelters, group homes, prisons/jails, and manufacturing facilities with limited social distancing capacity).” State Plan
Oregon No Does not specifically mention incarcerated populations. Does use the CDC Phased Approach chart, which includes “critical populations” in Phase 2. No Does not mention corrections workers specifically. Does use the CDC Phased Approach chart, which includes “other essential workers’ in Phase 1-B, but provides no further context on who this includes. State Plan
Pennsylvania Phase 1B Initially, Pennsylvania did not have a plan publicly available. On December 11, the state released a full plan, which includes people in “Correctional Facilities/ Juvenile Justice Facilities” in Phase 1B, among other congregate groups. Phase 1B Initially, Pennsylvania did not have a plan publicly available. On December 11, the state released a full plan, which includes workers in “Correctional facilities/ juvenile justice facilities” as part of the critical workforce in Phase 1B. State Plan
Rhode Island Phase 2 Phase 2 includes “Incarcerated or detained people and facility staff.” Phase 2 Phase 2 includes “Incarcerated or detained people and facility staff.” State Plan
South Carolina No Does not specifically mentione incarcerated people. Does use the CDC Phased Approach chart, which includes “critical populations” in Phase 2. Maybe Phase 1B Does not specifically mention corrections workers. Does use the CDC Phased Approach chart, which includes “other essential workers’ in Phase 1-B, and states that CISA guideance will be used as a reference on who is essential (which lists corrections). State Plan
South Dakota No No Corrections workers seem like they will prioritized, but a phase was not specified. The report states that data will be collected from “Correctional Health and Department of Corrections” as part of the effort to estimate the number of essential workers. State Plan
Tennessee Phase 2 Phase 2 includes “corrections residents and staff.” Phase 2 Phase 2 includes “corrections residents and staff.” State Plan
Texas No No State Plan
Utah Phase 2 Phase 2 includes “staff and inmates located at correctional facilities.” Phase 2 Phase 2 includes “staff and inmates located at correctional facilities.” State Plan
Vermont Phase 2 Uses the National Academy of Medicine chart, which list “people in prisons, jails, detention centers, and similar facilities, and staff who work in such settings” in Phase 2. Phase 2 Uses the National Academy of Medicine chart, which lists “people in prisons, jails, detention centers, and similar facilities, and staff who work in such settings” in Phase 2. State Plan
Virginia Probably Phase 2 Uses the CDC Phased Approach chart, which includes “critical populations” in phase 2. Elsewhere in the report, “People who are incarcerated/detained in correctional facilities” are included on a list of critical populations. Probably Phase 1B Phase 1-B includes “People who play a key role in keeping essential functions of society running and cannot socially distance in the workplace (e.g., emergency and law enforcement personnel not included in Phase 1-A).” This seems likely to include corrections staff, although they are not listed specifically. It also states that CISA guideance will be used as a reference on who is essential (which lists corrections). State Plan
Washington Phase 2 Uses the National Academy of Medicine chart, which lists “people in prisons, jails, detention centers, and similar facilities, and staff who work in such settings” in Phase 2. Phase 2 Uses the National Academy of Medicine chart, which lists “people in prisons, jails, detention centers, and similar facilities, and staff who work in such settings” in Phase 2. State Plan
West Virginia Probably Phase 2 Uses the CDC Phased Approach chart, which includes “critical populations” in Phase 2. Elsewhere, a list of “additional critical populations” includes “People who are incarcerated/detained in correctional facilities.” Phase 1B In a list of who is in Phase 1B, “correctional staff” is #10. State Plan
Wisconsin No No State Plan
Wyoming Probably Phase 2 The report states that “Phase 2 critical populations may include those in congregate settings.” Elsewhere in the report, “Correctional facility inmates” are included on a list of “People at increased risk of acquiring or transmitting COVID-19.” Phase 1B or Phase 2 The report states that “Phase 1b critical populations may include…essential workers.” However, it seems some workers will be in Phase 2: “Phase 2 critical populations may include additional critical workers.” Elsewhere, personnel of correctional facilities are specifically listed as “critical infrastructure workforce.” State Plan

At the International Symposium on Solitary Confinement, researchers and formerly incarcerated people made it clear that isolation causes severe and permanent damage.

by Tiana Herring, December 8, 2020

On a given day last year, an estimated 55,000 to 62,500 people had spent the previous 15 days in solitary confinement in state and federal prisons, often in cells smaller than a parking space.1 Correctional officials often defend their frequent use of solitary confinement as an effective means of maintaining order and deterring violence and gang activity. But this reliance on solitary ignores the abundance of studies demonstrating the harmful and often long-lasting effects it wreaks on the human mind and body.

At the International Symposium on Solitary Confinement, sponsored by Thomas Jefferson University in November, researchers and formerly incarcerated people made it clear that any “positive” benefits correctional institutions gain by using solitary confinement are outweighed by the severe and often permanent damages caused by prolonged isolation. Recent studies show that time spent in solitary confinement shortens lives, even after release, and speakers at the International Symposium emphasized various other ways solitary causes irreparable harm.

Solitary confinement goes by many names, including “special housing units,” “administrative segregation,” “disciplinary segregation,” and “restrictive housing,” but the conditions are generally the same: 22 to 24 hours per day spent alone in a small cell.2 The practice is widespread in jails, prisons, ICE detention centers, and juvenile facilities, and people are often sent to solitary for vague reasons or minor offenses. Black and Hispanic people, who are already overrepresented in correctional facilities, are further overrepresented in solitary confinement. Solitary isn’t just used for short periods of time, either: many people are confined without human interaction for years, and sometimes even decades.3

Prisons and jails are already inherently harmful, and placing people in solitary confinement adds an extra burden of stress that has been shown to cause permanent changes to people’s brains and personalities. In fact, the part of the brain that plays a major role in memory has been shown to physically shrink after long periods without human interaction. And since humans are naturally social beings, depriving people of the ability to socialize can cause “social pain,” which researchers define as “the feelings of hurt and distress that come from negative social experiences such as social deprivation, exclusion, rejection, or loss.” Social pain affects the brain in the same way as physical pain, and can actually cause more suffering because of humans’ ability to relive social pain months or even years later.

graph show mortality risk with solitary confinement

Premature deaths — by suicide, homicide, or opioid overdose — after release from prison are more likely for those that spent any amount of time (even one day) in solitary confinement than those who never did.

The effects of solitary confinement on mental health can be lethal. Even though people in solitary confinement comprise only 6% to 8% of the total prison population, they account for approximately half of those who die by suicide. Relatedly, observation cells in prisons, which are used for suicide watch — often with similar conditions to solitary confinement — are disproportionately filled with transfers from segregation. People often cycle between the two units without receiving adequate professional help to address their underlying mental health concerns.

Even if someone doesn’t enter solitary with a mental health condition, it’s possible for them to develop a specific psychiatric syndrome due to the effects of isolation. Dr. Stuart Grassian, who first identified the syndrome, notes that it is characterized by a progressive inability to tolerate ordinary things, such as the sound of plumbing; hallucinations and illusions; severe panic attacks; difficulties with thinking, concentration, and memory; obsessive, sometimes harmful, thoughts that won’t go away; paranoia; problems with impulse control; and delirium.

Robert King and Jack Morris, who spent a combined 62 years in solitary confinement, underscored many of the above findings at the International Symposium on Solitary Confinement. Mr. King noted that after a while, he lost his interest in communicating and experienced an emotional numbness that led to a loss of basic skills. Even since his release from prison in 2001, Mr. King says he struggles with simple things, including his sense of direction. Research indicates that many problems people develop while in solitary confinement often persist upon their return to the general population or their release to the outside world.

The irreparable damages caused by solitary confinement are unjustifiable, and have led the Union Nations to consider solitary torture when used for longer than 15 consecutive days. But this overwhelming research is often ignored in jails and prisons, where solitary confinement is frequently used as a “solution” to nearly every problem that arises, including disobedience, perceived threats, alleged gang affiliation, and even supposedly for individuals’ own protection. And as prisons continue using lockdowns in response to COVID-19, leaving many people alone or with a cellmate in tight spaces for 24 hours a day, understanding the damaging effects of solitary and changing these practices is more important than ever.

 

Footnotes

  1. It’s possible this number is higher, as this report relied on self-reported data from the state Departments of Corrections, and only counted people as being in solitary if they’d been there for at least 15 days.

     ↩

  2. Solitary Watch reports that cells generally measure from 6×9 to 8×10 feet.

     ↩

  3. In 2011, about 45% of people in the Pelican Bay Security Housing Unit had been in solitary for longer than a decade. A more recent study by Yale Law School’s Arthur Liman Center for Public Interest Law found that 11 percent of people in solitary had been segregated for at least three years.

     ↩


COVID infections are rising across the country. So why are we allowing jail populations to rise?

by Emily Widra, December 2, 2020

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the strategy to slowing its spread behind bars was clear: Reduce the number of people in jails and prisons. In March, public health and medical officials were already warning that incarcerated people would be uniquely vulnerable to the spread of the disease and its most serious medical consequences, due to their close quarters and high rates of preexisting health conditions.

And yet, more than eight months after the World Health Organization declared the pandemic, prisons and jails have generally failed to reduce their populations enough to protect the health and lives of those who are incarcerated. While state prison populations have slowly declined from pre-pandemic levels, the pace of these modest reductions has slowed since the spring, even as national infection rates continue to rise. And county jails — which made promising reductions in the spring — have failed to sustain those reforms.

”graph Despite the rising national case rate of COVID-19, the number of people held in 514 county jails across the country has increased over the past four months. This graph contains aggregated data collected by NYU’s Public Safety Lab and updates a graph in our September 10th briefing. This graph includes all jails where the Lab was able to report data on March 10th and for at least 75% of the days in our research period. (The Public Safety Lab is continuing to add more jails to its data collection and data is not available for all facilities for all days.) To see county level data for all 514 jails included in this analysis, see Appendix A. This graph presents the data as 7-day rolling averages, which smooths out most of the variations caused by individual facilities not being reported on particular days. The temporary population drops/increases during the last weeks of May and August, as well as the first week of November, are the result of more facilities than usual not being included in the dataset for various reasons, rather than any known policy changes.

As a result of these failures to sufficiently decarcerate, the early warnings of health experts have come true: the COVID-19 case rate in state and federal prisons is more than four times as high as that of the general public, and the death rate is more than twice as high. The Texas prison system alone has had more COVID-19 cases than in four states and Washington, D.C. combined. And since people who work in prisons and jails regularly return to their communities, correctional facilities are dangerously poised to become incubators for the disease and contribute to rising infection rates in surrounding communities.

Initially, many local officials — including sheriffs, prosecutors, and judges — responded quickly to reduce jail populations. In a national sample of 514 county jails of varying sizes, most (88%) decreased their populations from March to July, resulting in an average population reduction across all 514 jails of 26%.1 These population reductions came as the result of various policy changes, including police issuing citations in lieu of arrests, prosecutors declining to charge people for “low-level offenses,” courts reducing cash bail amounts, and jail administrators releasing people detained pretrial or those serving short sentences for “nonviolent offenses.”

But now the data tells a different story. Since July, 77% of the jails in our sample had population increases, suggesting that the early reforms instituted to mitigate COVID-19 have largely been abandoned. For example, by mid-April, the Philadelphia city jail population reportedly dropped by more than 17% after city police suspended low-level arrests and judges released “certain nonviolent detainees” jailed for “low-level charges.” But on May 1st — as the pandemic raged on — the Philadelphia police force announced that they would resume arrests for property crimes, effectively reversing the earlier reduction efforts. Similarly, on July 10th, the sheriff of Jefferson County, Alabama, announced that the jail would limit admissions to only “violent felons that cannot make bond.”2 That effort was quickly abandoned when the jail resumed normal admission operations just one week later. The increasing jail populations across the country suggest that after the first wave of responses to COVID-19, many local officials have allowed jail admissions to return to business as usual.

On the other hand, state prison populations have continued to decline, but not quickly or significantly enough to slow the spread of COVID-19. Even in states where prison populations have dropped, there are still too many people behind bars to accommodate social distancing, effective isolation and quarantine, and increased health care requirements. For example, although California has reduced the state prison population by about 20% since January, the number of large COVID-19 outbreaks in California state prisons suggests that the population reduction needs to be much more drastic. In fact, as of November 18th, California’s state prisons were still holding more people than they were designed for, at 105% of their design capacity.

”graph Prison population data for 21 states where population data was readily available for January, May, July, August, September, October, and November, either directly from the state Departments of Correction or the Vera Institute of Justice. See our COVID-19 response tracker for more information on many of the most important policy changes that led to these small reductions in some states. For the population data for these 21 states, see Appendix B.
Sharp-eyed readers may wonder if Connecticut and Vermont are showing larger declines than most other states because those two states have “unified” prison and jail systems. However, data from both states show that the bulk of their population reduction is coming from within the “sentenced” portion of their populations. (For the Connecticut data, see the Correctional Facility Population Count Report, and for Vermont, see the daily population reports.)

Early in the pandemic, North Dakota quickly reduced its prison population by 19% between January and May 2020, a trend that continued until the beginning of October. But over the past month this trend reversed and the states’ prison population actually started to increase (by 3% from October 8 to November 19). Now, North Dakota is experiencing the state’s first major outbreaks of COVID-19 in prison. In one facility, the James River Correctional Center, more than half of the incarcerated population had active COVID-19 infections as of November 23rd.

According to a October 2020 report from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, the modest declines in prison populations can be largely attributed to changes in arrests, jail bookings, and court closures — not releases. Despite evidence that large-scale releases do not inherently endanger public safety, states have elected to release people from prison on a mostly case-by-case basis, which the National Academies report describes as “procedurally slow and not well suited to crisis situations.”

Thankfully, some states have recognized the inefficiency of case-by-case releases and the necessity of larger-scale releases. For example, in New Jersey,3 Governor Phil Murphy signed bill S2519 in October, which allowed for the early release of people with less than a year left on their sentences. A few weeks after the bill was signed, more than 2,000 people were released from New Jersey state prisons on November 4th.4

Prisons and jails are notoriously dangerous places during a viral outbreak, and continue to be a major source of a large number of infections in the U.S. The COVID-19 death rate in prisons is three times higher than among the general U.S. population, even when adjusted for age and sex (as the prison population is disproportionately young and male). Since the early days of the pandemic, public health professionals, corrections officials, and criminal justice reform advocates have agreed that decarceration is necessary to protect incarcerated people and the community-at-large from COVID-19. Despite this knowledge, state, federal, and local authorities have failed to reduce jail and prison populations on a major scale, which continues to put incarcerated people’s lives at risk — and by extension, the lives of everyone in greater communities where incarcerated people eventually return, and where correctional staff live and work.





Footnotes

  1. The NYU Public Safety Lab Jail Data Initiative has collected jail populations for over 1,000 facilities from January to November. This sample includes jails of varying size, as well as geographic diversity. For each of our analyses of jail and prison populations during the pandemic (including our earlier analyses in May, August, and September), we included all jails from this database that had population data available for at least 75% of the days in the period being studied, and had data going back to March 10. As time has passed, additional jails have been added to the Jail Data Initiative database, allowing us to increase the number of jails in our sample. For this November analysis, we included 514 jails. (We included all 514 jails that had at least 188 days worth of data, representing at least 75% of the days between March 10th and November 15th; had data available on March 10th; and continued to have data available after August 1st).  ↩

  2. The news story from Jefferson County does not make clear whether officials are using “violent” to refer to the crime a person is charged with, crimes of which they have already convicted, a label imposed on them by a risk assessment tool, or something else.  ↩

  3. New Jersey is not included in the above graph of state prison population changes because the New Jersey Department of Correction has not published monthly population data for 2020. However, in an October 2020 press release, Governor Phil Murphy claimed the population in state correctional facilities had “decreased by nearly 3,000 people (16%)” since March.  ↩

  4. Soon after these releases, 88 people who were released under bill S2519 were quickly arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials. A spokesperson from ICE claimed that these 88 individuals were “violent offenders or have convictions for serious crimes such as homicide, aggravated assault, drug trafficking and child sexual exploitation.” However, these claims are brought into question when considering that the releases that took place under bill S2519 specifically excluded “people serving time for murder or sexual assault” and those serving time for sexual offenses. Although we did not include ICE facilities in our analysis, there is evidence that ICE detention facilities have a COVID-19 case rate that is up to 13 times higher than that of the general U.S. population.  ↩


Appendix A: County jail populations during COVID-19

This table shows the jail populations for 514 county jails where data was available where data was available for March 10th (the day the pandemic was declared) and for 75% of the days between March 10th and November 15th. (This table is a subset of the population data available for over 1,000 local jails from the NYU Public Safety Lab Jail Data Initiative.)

County State March population July population Most recent population Percent change from March to July Percent change from July to the most recent date Net percent change since March March date July date Most recent date
Autauga Ala. 171 158 193 -8% 20% 13% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Blount Ala. 125 117 159 -6% 36% 27% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Chambers Ala. 134 70 2 -48% -97% -99% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Cherokee Ala. 110 73 76 -34% 4% -31% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Clay Ala. 38 31 31 -18% 0% -18% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Cleburne Ala. 84 59 70 -30% 19% -17% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Coffee Ala. 127 77 83 -39% 8% -35% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Coosa Ala. 27 30 25 11% -17% -7% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Dale Ala. 74 65 91 -12% 40% 23% 3/10 7/1 11/15
DeKalb Ala. 167 141 168 -16% 19% 1% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Franklin Ala. 121 84 88 -31% 5% -27% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Houston Ala. 393 322 386 -18% 20% -2% 3/10 7/2 11/15
Jackson Ala. 177 180 233 2% 29% 32% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Limestone Ala. 251 198 208 -21% 5% -17% 3/10 7/1 9/3
Marion Ala. 131 133 146 2% 10% 11% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Morgan Ala. 615 549 608 -11% 11% -1% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Pickens Ala. 106 116 131 9% 13% 24% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Pike Ala. 62 37 57 -40% 54% -8% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Randolph Ala. 64 51 69 -20% 35% 8% 3/10 7/1 11/15
St. Clair Ala. 219 230 198 5% -14% -10% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Talladega Ala. 301 219 314 -27% 43% 4% 3/10 7/2 11/15
Washington Ala. 58 39 57 -33% 46% -2% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Baxter Ark. 120 83 112 -31% 35% -7% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Benton Ark. 673 374 582 -44% 56% -14% 3/10 7/2 11/15
Boone Ark. 103 73 95 -29% 30% -8% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Columbia Ark. 78 27 36 -65% 33% -54% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Crawford Ark. 215 152 266 -29% 75% 24% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Cross Ark. 69 58 49 -16% -16% -29% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Drew Ark. 63 34 44 -46% 29% -30% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Faulkner Ark. 466 222 323 -52% 45% -31% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Franklin Ark. 36 21 94 -42% 348% 161% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Hempstead Ark. 68 48 81 -29% 69% 19% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Howard Ark. 41 14 29 -66% 107% -29% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Jefferson Ark. 293 173 187 -41% 8% -36% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Johnson Ark. 63 27 67 -57% 148% 6% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Madison Ark. 9 1 1 -89% 0% -89% 3/10 7/4 11/15
Marion Ark. 42 23 69 -45% 200% 64% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Monroe Ark. 16 13 9 -19% -31% -44% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Nevada Ark. 55 37 60 -33% 62% 9% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Poinsett Ark. 80 43 90 -46% 109% 13% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Pope Ark. 193 133 172 -31% 29% -11% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Saline Ark. 233 125 200 -46% 60% -14% 3/10 7/1 11/15
St. Francis Ark. 71 36 25 -49% -31% -65% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Stone Ark. 36 34 37 -6% 9% 3% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Union Ark. 199 141 163 -29% 16% -18% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Van Buren Ark. 78 29 42 -63% 45% -46% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Washington Ark. 678 399 504 -41% 26% -26% 3/10 7/1 11/15
White Ark. 277 81 208 -71% 157% -25% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Yavapai Ariz. 537 439 485 -18% 10% -10% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Yuma Ariz. 427 357 443 -16% 24% 4% 3/10 7/1 11/15
El Dorado Calif. 383 325 324 -15% 0% -15% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Siskiyou Calif. 91 76 87 -16% 14% -4% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Stanislaus Calif. 1343 1048 1121 -22% 7% -17% 3/10 7/7 11/15
Tulare Calif. 1562 1200 1342 -23% 12% -14% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Yuba Calif. 383 207 212 -46% 2% -45% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Arapahoe Colo. 1123 681 789 -39% 16% -30% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Bent Colo. 55 26 51 -53% 96% -7% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Boulder Colo. 647 396 453 -39% 14% -30% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Douglas Colo. 339 204 272 -40% 33% -20% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Jefferson Colo. 1258 640 804 -49% 26% -36% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Pueblo Colo. 643 389 446 -40% 15% -31% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Alachua Fla. 729 664 736 -9% 11% 1% 3/10 7/1 11/14
Broward Fla. 1706 1576 1658 -8% 5% -3% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Clay Fla. 418 437 448 5% 3% 7% 3/10 7/1 11/15
DeSoto Fla. 147 162 164 10% 1% 12% 3/10 7/3 11/15
Flagler Fla. 203 184 182 -9% -1% -10% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Lake Fla. 18 7 17 -61% 143% -6% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Monroe Fla. 510 388 429 -24% 11% -16% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Nassau Fla. 236 177 224 -25% 27% -5% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Okeechobee Fla. 256 248 282 -3% 14% 10% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Sarasota Fla. 866 775 899 -11% 16% 4% 3/10 7/1 11/15
St. Lucie Fla. 1303 1219 1305 -6% 7% 0% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Walton Fla. 435 411 444 -6% 8% 2% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Bartow Ga. 671 519 610 -23% 18% -9% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Berrien Ga. 96 73 94 -24% 29% -2% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Brantley Ga. 122 124 95 2% -23% -22% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Bulloch Ga. 343 251 309 -27% 23% -10% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Burke Ga. 106 94 112 -11% 19% 6% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Camden Ga. 112 120 130 7% 8% 16% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Carroll Ga. 441 286 358 -35% 25% -19% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Catoosa Ga. 228 131 233 -43% 78% 2% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Columbia Ga. 276 175 204 -37% 17% -26% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Coweta Ga. 412 266 346 -35% 30% -16% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Decatur Ga. 116 113 152 -3% 35% 31% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Dodge Ga. 123 121 126 -2% 4% 2% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Dougherty Ga. 579 409 548 -29% 34% -5% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Douglas Ga. 681 339 564 -50% 66% -17% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Effingham Ga. 236 149 176 -37% 18% -25% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Elbert Ga. 95 54 66 -43% 22% -31% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Fayette Ga. 205 129 185 -37% 43% -10% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Floyd Ga. 639 464 547 -27% 18% -14% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Gordon Ga. 290 239 260 -18% 9% -10% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Habersham Ga. 162 110 133 -32% 21% -18% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Haralson Ga. 184 111 164 -40% 48% -11% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Jackson Ga. 143 110 160 -23% 45% 12% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Lamar Ga. 58 39 57 -33% 46% -2% 3/10 7/2 11/15
Laurens Ga. 337 271 294 -20% 8% -13% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Liberty Ga. 209 171 210 -18% 23% 0% 3/10 7/1 11/15
McDuffie Ga. 92 92 78 0% -15% -15% 3/10 7/1 10/22
Monroe Ga. 128 97 140 -24% 44% 9% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Oconee Ga. 27 17 26 -37% 53% -4% 3/10 7/1 10/13
Pickens Ga. 77 80 74 4% -8% -4% 3/10 7/1 10/12
Polk Ga. 179 155 159 -13% 3% -11% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Rabun Ga. 108 58 86 -46% 48% -20% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Richmond Ga. 1021 884 1000 -13% 13% -2% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Spalding Ga. 386 260 350 -33% 35% -9% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Sumter Ga. 157 127 157 -19% 24% 0% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Tattnall Ga. 87 36 79 -59% 119% -9% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Turner Ga. 67 65 62 -3% -5% -7% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Union Ga. 49 32 55 -35% 72% 12% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Upson Ga. 103 58 114 -44% 97% 11% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Ware Ga. 419 341 388 -19% 14% -7% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Washington Ga. 78 74 97 -5% 31% 24% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Whitfield Ga. 484 350 403 -28% 15% -17% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Worth Ga. 69 83 75 20% -10% 9% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Buena Vista Iowa 22 7 14 -68% 100% -36% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Cerro Gordo Iowa 68 36 55 -47% 53% -19% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Clinton Iowa 59 35 63 -41% 80% 7% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Dallas Iowa 27 30 44 11% 47% 63% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Dickinson Iowa 13 5 4 -62% -20% -69% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Hardin Iowa 84 75 56 -11% -25% -33% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Ida Iowa 7 1 2 -86% 100% -71% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Lyon Iowa 14 10 11 -29% 10% -21% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Plymouth Iowa 41 28 34 -32% 21% -17% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Polk Iowa 885 520 747 -41% 44% -16% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Scott Iowa 454 239 304 -47% 27% -33% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Story Iowa 70 26 60 -63% 131% -14% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Worth Iowa 8 2 3 -75% 50% -63% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Blaine Idaho 64 46 22 -28% -52% -66% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Bonner Idaho 151 128 134 -15% 5% -11% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Bonneville Idaho 392 266 250 -32% -6% -36% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Canyon Idaho 445 378 351 -15% -7% -21% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Nez Perce Idaho 128 84 82 -34% -2% -36% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Power Idaho 14 9 10 -36% 11% -29% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Washington Idaho 40 35 31 -13% -11% -23% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Douglas Ill. 24 32 17 33% -47% -29% 3/10 7/1 8/19
Kendall Ill. 156 137 151 -12% 10% -3% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Macon Ill. 300 256 283 -15% 11% -6% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Moultrie Ill. 24 28 34 17% 21% 42% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Randolph Ill. 25 22 31 -12% 41% 24% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Will Ill. 687 601 641 -13% 7% -7% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Woodford Ill. 52 54 70 4% 30% 35% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Clinton Ind. 151 119 158 -21% 33% 5% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Dearborn Ind. 233 239 284 3% 19% 22% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Hamilton Ind. 294 208 299 -29% 44% 2% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Hendricks Ind. 265 195 239 -26% 23% -10% 3/10 7/1 9/28
Jackson Ind. 249 168 202 -33% 20% -19% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Perry Ind. 66 46 72 -30% 57% 9% 3/10 7/1 10/12
Starke Ind. 119 92 96 -23% 4% -19% 3/10 7/1 10/12
Tippecanoe Ind. 508 397 472 -22% 19% -7% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Brown Kan. 12 11 28 -8% 155% 133% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Chase Kan. 132 87 83 -34% -5% -37% 3/10 8/24* 11/15
Cherokee Kan. 81 42 82 -48% 95% 1% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Coffey Kan. 28 20 26 -29% 30% -7% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Crawford Kan. 74 51 74 -31% 45% 0% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Dickinson Kan. 20 15 11 -25% -27% -45% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Doniphan Kan. 9 6 5 -33% -17% -44% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Finney Kan. 95 77 57 -19% -26% -40% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Geary Kan. 100 75 94 -25% 25% -6% 3/10 7/1 11/13
Jackson Kan. 82 53 69 -35% 30% -16% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Jefferson Kan. 28 29 18 4% -38% -36% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Pratt Kan. 22 12 13 -45% 8% -41% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Rooks Kan. 18 9 7 -50% -22% -61% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Shawnee Kan. 540 400 450 -26% 13% -17% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Sherman Kan. 18 24 26 33% 8% 44% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Sumner Kan. 142 41 101 -71% 146% -29% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Thomas Kan. 14 10 12 -29% 20% -14% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Trego Kan. 11 6 9 -45% 50% -18% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Wabaunsee Kan. 9 6 8 -33% 33% -11% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Woodson Kan. 9 8 12 -11% 50% 33% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Allen Ky. 80 40 41 -50% 3% -49% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Bell Ky. 117 93 132 -21% 42% 13% 3/10 7/1 9/28
Boone Ky. 453 372 492 -18% 32% 9% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Breckinridge Ky. 211 132 181 -37% 37% -14% 3/10 7/1 9/28
Campbell Ky. 588 474 477 -19% 1% -19% 3/10 7/1 9/28
Carter Ky. 210 129 180 -39% 40% -14% 3/10 7/1 10/12
Christian Ky. 768 522 613 -32% 17% -20% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Clark Ky. 303 141 154 -53% 9% -49% 3/10 7/1 10/12
Daviess Ky. 717 496 606 -31% 22% -15% 3/10 7/1 9/28
Franklin Ky. 287 199 189 -31% -5% -34% 3/10 7/1 10/12
Graves Ky. 182 143 150 -21% 5% -18% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Harlan Ky. 220 168 180 -24% 7% -18% 3/10 7/1 10/12
Hart Ky. 190 135 155 -29% 15% -18% 3/10 7/1 10/12
Jackson Ky. 128 81 78 -37% -4% -39% 3/10 7/1 10/12
Jessamine Ky. 142 84 80 -41% -5% -44% 3/10 7/1 10/12
Larue Ky. 143 87 129 -39% 48% -10% 3/10 7/1 10/12
Letcher Ky. 108 87 95 -19% 9% -12% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Lewis Ky. 69 49 47 -29% -4% -32% 3/10 7/1 10/12
Mason Ky. 184 103 128 -44% 24% -30% 3/10 7/1 10/12
Nelson Ky. 116 97 49 -16% -49% -58% 3/10 7/1 10/12
Pike Ky. 443 320 342 -28% 7% -23% 3/10 7/1 9/28
Pulaski Ky. 351 227 285 -35% 26% -19% 3/10 7/1 9/28
Rockcastle Ky. 102 59 63 -42% 7% -38% 3/10 7/1 10/12
Rowan Ky. 321 231 266 -28% 15% -17% 3/10 7/1 10/13
Russell Ky. 116 99 91 -15% -8% -22% 3/10 7/1 9/28
Taylor Ky. 239 145 172 -39% 19% -28% 3/10 7/1 9/28
Todd Ky. 135 84 88 -38% 5% -35% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Union Ky. 72 45 18 -38% -60% -75% 3/10 7/1 8/14
Wayne Ky. 193 125 124 -35% -1% -36% 3/10 7/1 10/12
Allen La. 102 64 58 -37% -9% -43% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Assumption La. 101 89 102 -12% 15% 1% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Avoyelles La. 424 328 320 -23% -2% -25% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Beauregard La. 161 137 174 -15% 27% 8% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Bienville La. 41 27 26 -34% -4% -37% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Bogalusa City La. 18 10 13 -44% 30% -28% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Caldwell La. 610 504 588 -17% 17% -4% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Cameron La. 27 19 12 -30% -37% -56% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Catahoula La. 72 49 52 -32% 6% -28% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Claiborne La. 575 463 437 -19% -6% -24% 3/10 7/1 11/15
EaSt. Feliciana La. 244 216 239 -11% 11% -2% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Evangeline La. 74 57 66 -23% 16% -11% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Franklin La. 815 688 804 -16% 17% -1% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Hammond City La. 14 11 7 -21% -36% -50% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Iberia La. 403 325 360 -19% 11% -11% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Iberville La. 106 111 105 5% -5% -1% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Jackson La. 131 115 138 -12% 20% 5% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Jefferson Davis La. 159 72 123 -55% 71% -23% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Lafayette La. 990 528 549 -47% 4% -45% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Lafourche La. 458 313 322 -32% 3% -30% 3/10 7/1 11/15
LaSalle La. 73 58 82 -21% 41% 12% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Lincoln La. 246 233 232 -5% 0% -6% 3/10 7/1 9/13
Madison La. 35 38 66 9% 74% 89% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Morehouse La. 464 505 475 9% -6% 2% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Oakdale La. 1 1 1 0% 0% 0% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Ouachita La. 1134 991 1089 -13% 10% -4% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Pointe Coupee La. 98 72 67 -27% -7% -32% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Red River La. 64 54 48 -16% -11% -25% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Richland La. 751 583 676 -22% 16% -10% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Sabine La. 203 163 157 -20% -4% -23% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Shreveport La. 63 12 28 -81% 133% -56% 3/10 7/1 11/15
St. Charles La. 458 416 433 -9% 4% -5% 3/10 7/1 11/15
St. James La. 68 40 49 -41% 23% -28% 3/10 7/1 11/15
St. John La. 146 125 95 -14% -24% -35% 3/10 7/1 11/15
St. Mary La. 223 169 170 -24% 1% -24% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Sulphur La. 11 16 12 45% -25% 9% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Tangipahoa La. 572 449 523 -22% 16% -9% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Tensas La. 18 18 23 0% 28% 28% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Terrebonne La. 645 490 573 -24% 17% -11% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Vermilion La. 146 129 153 -12% 19% 5% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Vernon La. 131 100 135 -24% 35% 3% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Ville Platte La. 16 7 13 -56% 86% -19% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Washington La. 163 139 190 -15% 37% 17% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Webster La. 627 546 635 -13% 16% 1% 3/10 7/1 11/15
WeSt. Baton Rouge La. 320 249 249 -22% 0% -22% 3/10 7/1 11/15
WeSt. Feliciana La. 25 14 129 -44% 821% 416% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Winnfield La. 24 22 29 -8% 32% 21% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Worcester Mass. 766 487 556 -36% 14% -27% 3/10 7/1 11/14
Allegany Md. 189 138 151 -27% 9% -20% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Garrett Md. 9 7 10 -22% 43% 11% 3/10 7/1 8/18
Prince Georges Md. 884 726 944 -18% 30% 7% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Cumberland Maine 349 283 329 -19% 16% -6% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Delta Mich. 125 105 111 -16% 6% -11% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Midland Mich. 101 53 68 -48% 28% -33% 3/10 7/1 10/12
Wayne Mich. 2086 2129 2802 2% 32% 34% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Beltrami Minn. 113 86 88 -24% 2% -22% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Blue Earth Minn. 114 65 76 -43% 17% -33% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Brown Minn. 18 16 18 -11% 13% 0% 3/10 7/1 10/12
Carlton Minn. 33 15 27 -55% 80% -18% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Chisago Minn. 61 23 39 -62% 70% -36% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Clay Minn. 117 61 89 -48% 46% -24% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Clearwater Minn. 17 11 8 -35% -27% -53% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Crow Wing Minn. 155 98 95 -37% -3% -39% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Fillmore Minn. 7 9 8 29% -11% 14% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Hubbard Minn. 63 30 50 -52% 67% -21% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Isanti Minn. 57 28 43 -51% 54% -25% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Kanabec Minn. 45 18 14 -60% -22% -69% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Kandiyohi Minn. 91 66 62 -27% -6% -32% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Lac Qui Parle Minn. 4 4 3 0% -25% -25% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Le Sueur Minn. 23 9 11 -61% 22% -52% 3/10 7/1 11/15
McLeod Minn. 36 18 25 -50% 39% -31% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Mille Lacs Minn. 79 44 40 -44% -9% -49% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Morrison Minn. 31 18 22 -42% 22% -29% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Mower Minn. 79 46 51 -42% 11% -35% 3/10 7/1 11/13
Nicollet Minn. 26 12 12 -54% 0% -54% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Pennington Minn. 34 29 39 -15% 34% 15% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Pipestone Minn. 14 8 8 -43% 0% -43% 3/10 8/18* 11/15
Redwood Minn. 12 14 7 17% -50% -42% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Renville Minn. 39 14 21 -64% 50% -46% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Roseau Minn. 21 11 8 -48% -27% -62% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Scott Minn. 140 58 89 -59% 53% -36% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Sherburne Minn. 307 261 250 -15% -4% -19% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Sibley Minn. 9 1 8 -89% 700% -11% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Swift Minn. 4 3 3 -25% 0% -25% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Todd Minn. 21 7 27 -67% 286% 29% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Wilkin Minn. 9 3 6 -67% 100% -33% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Winona Minn. 30 17 28 -43% 65% -7% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Wright Minn. 182 98 98 -46% 0% -46% 3/10 7/1 11/2
Yellow Medicine Minn. 15 8 16 -47% 100% 7% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Barry Mo. 45 46 57 2% 24% 27% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Bates Mo. 31 22 8 -29% -64% -74% 3/10 7/1 10/12
Benton Mo. 35 18 36 -49% 100% 3% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Bollinger Mo. 19 13 17 -32% 31% -11% 3/10 7/1 10/12
Boone Mo. 252 198 237 -21% 20% -6% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Buchanan Mo. 217 149 207 -31% 39% -5% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Cape Girardeau Mo. 148 160 219 8% 37% 48% 3/10 8/18* 11/15
Christian Mo. 101 66 81 -35% 23% -20% 3/10 7/1 10/12
Clay Mo. 300 213 221 -29% 4% -26% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Jackson Mo. 839 688 800 -18% 16% -5% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Jasper Mo. 200 168 165 -16% -2% -18% 3/10 7/3 11/15
Johnson Mo. 202 75 129 -63% 72% -36% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Joplin Mo. 56 36 31 -36% -14% -45% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Lawrence Mo. 77 71 73 -8% 3% -5% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Lewis Mo. 8 7 12 -13% 71% 50% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Marion Mo. 79 57 70 -28% 23% -11% 3/10 7/1 11/15
McDonald Mo. 34 41 29 21% -29% -15% 3/10 7/1 10/12
Morgan Mo. 79 59 115 -25% 95% 46% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Nodaway Mo. 12 11 10 -8% -9% -17% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Saline Mo. 57 43 52 -25% 21% -9% 3/10 7/1 10/12
Stone Mo. 65 69 63 6% -9% -3% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Adams Miss. 76 82 73 8% -11% -4% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Clay Miss. 68 51 60 -25% 18% -12% 3/10 7/1 10/26
Hancock Miss. 203 196 205 -3% 5% 1% 3/10 7/1 10/12
Jackson Miss. 338 357 370 6% 4% 9% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Jasper Miss. 30 23 23 -23% 0% -23% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Kemper Miss. 380 371 369 -2% -1% -3% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Lamar Miss. 106 84 93 -21% 11% -12% 3/10 7/1 10/12
Lee Miss. 194 198 228 2% 15% 18% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Sunflower Miss. 49 44 41 -10% -7% -16% 3/10 7/1 11/12
Tunica Miss. 27 24 21 -11% -13% -22% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Broadwater Mont. 47 35 39 -26% 11% -17% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Chouteau Mont. 11 18 10 64% -44% -9% 3/10 7/25 9/8
Glacier Mont. 8 10 6 25% -40% -25% 3/10 7/1 10/22
Lewis and Clark Mont. 102 104 99 2% -5% -3% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Ravalli Mont. 41 38 40 -7% 5% -2% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Rosebud Mont. 11 10 12 -9% 20% 9% 3/10 7/7 11/15
Valley Mont. 40 26 24 -35% -8% -40% 3/10 7/2 11/15
Alamance N.C. 361 220 263 -39% 20% -27% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Anson N.C. 49 50 53 2% 6% 8% 3/10 7/1 11/6
Brunswick N.C. 244 163 228 -33% 40% -7% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Buncombe N.C. 504 347 400 -31% 15% -21% 3/10 7/1 10/14
Burke N.C. 133 126 149 -5% 18% 12% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Cabarrus N.C. 323 192 193 -41% 1% -40% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Carteret N.C. 165 100 149 -39% 49% -10% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Catawba N.C. 302 224 273 -26% 22% -10% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Chatham N.C. 1749 1205 1350 -31% 12% -23% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Clay N.C. 314 209 215 -33% 3% -32% 3/10 7/1 9/28
Cleveland N.C. 324 184 248 -43% 35% -23% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Davidson N.C. 340 210 246 -38% 17% -28% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Guilford N.C. 1051 772 741 -27% -4% -29% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Lee N.C. 119 96 127 -19% 32% 7% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Lincoln N.C. 148 63 123 -57% 95% -17% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Moore N.C. 138 100 130 -28% 30% -6% 3/10 7/1 11/15
New Hanover N.C. 444 353 465 -20% 32% 5% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Pender N.C. 88 66 84 -25% 27% -5% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Randolph N.C. 255 193 215 -24% 11% -16% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Richmond N.C. 114 75 104 -34% 39% -9% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Rowan N.C. 341 223 277 -35% 24% -19% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Sampson N.C. 253 167 211 -34% 26% -17% 3/10 7/2 11/15
Stanly N.C. 156 98 129 -37% 32% -17% 3/10 7/1 11/12
Transylvania N.C. 77 45 40 -42% -11% -48% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Wake N.C. 1246 1054 1173 -15% 11% -6% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Washington N.C. 459 305 290 -34% -5% -37% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Stutsman N.D. 47 35 41 -26% 17% -13% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Williams N.D. 90 102 96 13% -6% 7% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Hall Neb. 275 198 257 -28% 30% -7% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Lancaster Neb. 625 451 587 -28% 30% -6% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Lincoln Neb. 117 116 118 -1% 2% 1% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Bergen N.J. 618 283 312 -54% 10% -50% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Burlington N.J. 375 257 367 -31% 43% -2% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Cumberland N.J. 337 246 308 -27% 25% -9% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Hunterdon N.J. 46 28 31 -39% 11% -33% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Ocean N.J. 326 242 316 -26% 31% -3% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Salem N.J. 302 267 326 -12% 22% 8% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Sussex N.J. 75 41 57 -45% 39% -24% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Bernalillo N.M. 1680 1315 1267 -22% -4% -25% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Curry N.M. 183 160 168 -13% 5% -8% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Hobbs N.M. 11 7 13 -36% 86% 18% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Lea N.M. 234 138 155 -41% 12% -34% 3/10 7/1 11/15
San Juan N.M. 508 312 468 -39% 50% -8% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Monroe N.Y. 766 587 708 -23% 21% -8% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Adams Ohio 42 35 45 -17% 29% 7% 3/10 7/1 10/12
Clinton Ohio 80 52 56 -35% 8% -30% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Delaware Ohio 233 160 162 -31% 1% -30% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Erie Ohio 129 73 86 -43% 18% -33% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Franklin Ohio 2002 1503 1758 -25% 17% -12% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Guernsey Ohio 105 83 87 -21% 5% -17% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Hamilton Ohio 1499 1114 1409 -26% 26% -6% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Knox Ohio 96 75 75 -22% 0% -22% 3/10 7/1 9/2
Morrow Ohio 104 53 60 -49% 13% -42% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Ottawa Ohio 92 59 58 -36% -2% -37% 3/10 7/1 10/12
Pickaway Ohio 119 110 90 -8% -18% -24% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Wood Ohio 169 96 143 -43% 49% -15% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Choctaw Okla. 29 22 30 -24% 36% 3% 3/10 7/1 8/20
Comanche Okla. 357 278 274 -22% -1% -23% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Creek Okla. 225 149 204 -34% 37% -9% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Garvin Okla. 67 59 75 -12% 27% 12% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Mayes Okla. 77 93 109 21% 17% 42% 3/10 7/1 11/15
McClain Okla. 96 59 78 -39% 32% -19% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Okmulgee Okla. 174 192 180 10% -6% 3% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Pawnee Okla. 53 28 22 -47% -21% -58% 3/10 7/1 8/20
Pottawatomie Okla. 203 184 202 -9% 10% 0% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Wagoner Okla. 89 97 108 9% 11% 21% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Baker Ore. 32 14 16 -56% 14% -50% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Clackamas Ore. 427 198 220 -54% 11% -48% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Clatsop Ore. 56 38 50 -32% 32% -11% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Coos Ore. 81 38 38 -53% 0% -53% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Douglas Ore. 200 123 107 -39% -13% -47% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Harney Ore. 8 2 6 -75% 200% -25% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Jackson Ore. 321 251 270 -22% 8% -16% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Jefferson Ore. 60 46 76 -23% 65% 27% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Josephine Ore. 185 145 80 -22% -45% -57% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Klamath Ore. 136 73 100 -46% 37% -26% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Lincoln Ore. 161 73 99 -55% 36% -39% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Marion Ore. 420 274 282 -35% 3% -33% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Marion Work Center Ore. 90 33 49 -63% 48% -46% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Multnomah Ore. 1118 638 764 -43% 20% -32% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Polk Ore. 109 60 82 -45% 37% -25% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Tillamook Ore. 64 39 30 -39% -23% -53% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Wasco Ore. 132 60 77 -55% 28% -42% 3/10 7/1 11/9
Washington Ore. 874 516 566 -41% 10% -35% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Yamhill Ore. 166 54 96 -67% 78% -42% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Cumberland Pa. 409 221 243 -46% 10% -41% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Dauphin Pa. 1110 864 993 -22% 15% -11% 3/10 7/1 10/23
Lancaster Pa. 786 669 682 -15% 2% -13% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Anderson City S.C. 95 80 82 -16% 3% -14% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Berkeley S.C. 438 292 356 -33% 22% -19% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Cherokee S.C. 357 259 333 -27% 29% -7% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Darlington S.C. 161 129 169 -20% 31% 5% 3/10 7/4 11/15
Kershaw S.C. 80 86 101 8% 17% 26% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Laurens S.C. 226 161 243 -29% 51% 8% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Lexington S.C. 498 316 413 -37% 31% -17% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Marion S.C. 66 58 63 -12% 9% -5% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Pickens S.C. 302 224 188 -26% -16% -38% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Sumter S.C. 309 266 272 -14% 2% -12% 3/10 7/1 11/15
York Prison S.C. 61 7 27 -89% 286% -56% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Clay S.D. 12 12 10 0% -17% -17% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Blount Tenn. 534 458 488 -14% 7% -9% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Giles Tenn. 163 128 113 -21% -12% -31% 3/10 7/1 10/12
Macon Tenn. 300 256 283 -15% 11% -6% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Polk Tenn. 181 154 172 -15% 12% -5% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Roane Tenn. 206 206 155 0% -25% -25% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Sevier Tenn. 390 390 404 0% 4% 4% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Shelby Tenn. 1807 1412 1311 -22% -7% -27% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Wayne Tenn. 151 100 138 -34% 38% -9% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Archer Texas 26 27 30 4% 11% 15% 3/10 7/1 11/14
Bell Texas 859 762 956 -11% 25% 11% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Brown Texas 161 148 171 -8% 16% 6% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Calhoun Texas 76 84 62 11% -26% -18% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Cochran Texas 12 13 10 8% -23% -17% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Coleman Texas 33 31 24 -6% -23% -27% 3/10 7/1 11/15
DeWitt Texas 81 84 74 4% -12% -9% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Edwards Texas 10 7 8 -30% 14% -20% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Ellis Texas 375 303 348 -19% 15% -7% 3/10 7/1 11/14
Erath Texas 79 68 72 -14% 6% -9% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Galveston Texas 991 839 944 -15% 13% -5% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Hopkins Texas 159 187 193 18% 3% 21% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Jim Wells Texas 61 59 41 -3% -31% -33% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Lavaca Texas 25 19 17 -24% -11% -32% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Liberty Texas 240 271 227 13% -16% -5% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Lubbock Texas 1242 1274 1238 3% -3% 0% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Milam Texas 137 138 138 1% 0% 1% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Parmer Texas 28 22 19 -21% -14% -32% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Polk Texas 184 158 198 -14% 25% 8% 3/10 7/2 11/15
Randall Texas 413 382 401 -8% 5% -3% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Robertson Texas 43 32 50 -26% 56% 16% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Rockwall Texas 220 219 240 0% 10% 9% 3/10 7/2 11/15
Shelby Texas 37 39 40 5% 3% 8% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Terry Texas 83 89 95 7% 7% 14% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Titus Texas 133 92 97 -31% 5% -27% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Tom Green Texas 392 413 440 5% 7% 12% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Wharton Texas 145 100 122 -31% 22% -16% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Cache Utah 183 108 127 -41% 18% -31% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Salt Lake Utah 2138 1166 1411 -45% 21% -34% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Sanpete Utah 13 14 15 8% 7% 15% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Tooele Utah 214 169 168 -21% -1% -21% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Blue Ridge Bedford Va. 100 78 108 -22% 38% 8% 3/10 7/1 9/28
Blue Ridge Halifax Va. 179 172 174 -4% 1% -3% 3/10 7/1 9/28
Blue Ridge Lynchburg Va. 466 383 501 -18% 31% 8% 3/10 7/1 9/28
Danville Va. 363 312 322 -14% 3% -11% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Middle Peninsula Va. 169 162 167 -4% 3% -1% 3/10 7/25 11/15
Middle River Va. 900 733 927 -19% 26% 3% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Norfolk Va. 935 667 871 -29% 31% -7% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Pamunkey Va. 376 296 395 -21% 33% 5% 3/10 7/1 9/28
Riverside Va. 1360 1144 1272 -16% 11% -6% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Roanoke Va. 173 145 167 -16% 15% -3% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Virginia Beach Va. 1509 1142 1260 -24% 10% -17% 3/10 7/6 11/15
Virginia Peninsula Va. 370 310 352 -16% 14% -5% 3/10 7/1 9/28
Western Virginia Va. 944 733 825 -22% 13% -13% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Chelan Wash. 190 143 169 -25% 18% -11% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Clallam Forks Wash. 17 10 10 -41% 0% -41% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Clark Wash. 655 402 427 -39% 6% -35% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Columbia Wash. 6 8 8 33% 0% 33% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Grays Harbor Wash. 177 122 117 -31% -4% -34% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Grays Harbor Aberdeen Wash. 20 16 9 -20% -44% -55% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Grays Harbor Hoquiam Wash. 31 19 21 -39% 11% -32% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Island Wash. 68 45 58 -34% 29% -15% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Jefferson Wash. 28 20 19 -29% -5% -32% 3/10 7/1 11/15
King Issaquah Wash. 56 23 41 -59% 78% -27% 3/10 7/1 11/15
King Kirkland Wash. 18 8 10 -56% 25% -44% 3/10 7/1 10/15
Kitsap Wash. 379 204 282 -46% 38% -26% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Lewis Wash. 191 144 182 -25% 26% -5% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Okanogan Wash. 159 86 94 -46% 9% -41% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Skagit Wash. 275 137 178 -50% 30% -35% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Skamania Wash. 24 23 28 -4% 22% 17% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Snohomish Wash. 743 369 503 -50% 36% -32% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Snohomish Lynnwood Wash. 49 10 21 -80% 110% -57% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Snohomish Marysville Wash. 35 8 13 -77% 63% -63% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Thurston Olympia Wash. 22 7 15 -68% 114% -32% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Walla Walla Wash. 83 62 75 -25% 21% -10% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Whatcom Wash. 292 200 240 -32% 20% -18% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Whitman Wash. 31 17 27 -45% 59% -13% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Yakima Wash. 871 426 516 -51% 21% -41% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Brown Wis. 699 573 609 -18% 6% -13% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Douglas Wis. 156 107 168 -31% 57% 8% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Eau Claire Wis. 273 186 175 -32% -6% -36% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Kenosha Wis. 564 427 519 -24% 22% -8% 3/10 7/1 11/15
La Crosse Wis. 151 84 82 -44% -2% -46% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Lincoln Wis. 104 69 60 -34% -13% -42% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Manitowoc Wis. 204 171 158 -16% -8% -23% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Milwaukee Wis. 1920 1493 1457 -22% -2% -24% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Ozaukee Wis. 195 161 162 -17% 1% -17% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Racine Wis. 753 562 636 -25% 13% -16% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Sawyer Wis. 114 86 75 -25% -13% -34% 3/10 7/1 11/15
Sheboygan Wis. 347 329 305 -5% -7% -12% 3/10 7/1 11/15

*Some jails did not have population data in the NYU database for July. We used the first August population available for those jails.


Appendix B: State prison populations during COVID-19

Prison populations for 21 states where monthly data was readily available for the period from January to November 2020.

State January May July August September October November Most recent Population Data Source
Prison population Date Prison population Date Prison population Date Prison population Date Prison population Date Prison population Date Prison population Date Prison population Date
Arizona 42,441 1/1 41,386 5/1 40,102 7/1 39,125 8/21 38,865 9/27 38,741 10/7 38,562 11/1 38,385 11/19 Vera’s People in Prison, 2019; ADCRR COVID-19 Dashboard
California 125,365 1/15 119,183 5/6 115,201 7/1 104,544 8/19 100,747 9/30 101,003 10/7 101,658 11/4 100,153 11/18 CDCR 2020 Weekly Total Population Reports
Connecticut 12,284 1/1 10,973 5/1 9,945 7/1 9,558 8/24 9,391 9/30 9,344 10/8 9,350 11/1 9,299 11/19 Department of Correction’s Total Population Counts Report
Georgia 53,924 1/3 51,294 5/1 49,959 7/3 48,274 8/21 46,814 9/25 47,368 10/2 46,649 10/30 45,893 11/13 GDC Friday Report
Indiana 26,562 1/1 26,418 5/1 25,385 7/1 24,203 10/1 Indiana DOC Offender Population Report
Iowa 9,282 1/1 8,899 5/1 7,555 7/8 7,441 8/24 7,410 9/17 7,402 10/8 7,415 10/31 7,433 11/19 Vera’s People in Prison, 2019; Department of Corrections’s Daily Statistics
Kansas 10,011 1/2 9,740 5/1 9,191 7/1 8,813 8/21 8,682 9/30 8,678 10/7 8,608 11/2 8,596 11/18 Department of Corrections Daily Adult Population Report
Kentucky 23,141 1/1 21,111 5/1 20,313 7/1 19,695 8/21 19,080 9/30 18,863 10/7 18,917 11/2 18,937 11/13 Vera’s People in Prison, 2019; Department of Corrections Daily Count Sheet
Maine 2,205 1/1 2,123 5/1 1,798 7/1 1,793 8/24 1,763 10/5 1,722 11/16 Vera’s People in Prison, 2019; Department of Corrections’ Population Report
Minnesota 9,381 1/1 8,466 5/4 8,330 7/1 7,599 8/24 7,519 9/28 7,512 10/1 7,543 11/2 7,449 11/16 Department of Corrections’ Adult Prison Population Summary; Department of Correction COVID-19 Updates
Mississippi 19,469 1/1 18,553 5/1 17,448 7/1 17,293 8/18 17,288 9/30 17,274 10/1 17,224 11/1 17,122 11/19 Vera’s People in Prison, 2019; Department of Correction Daily Inmate Population
Montana 2,759 1/1 2,692 5/1 2,542 7/1 2,537 8/24 2,526 9/24 2,491 10/7 2,473 11/1 2,445 11/18 Department of Corrections Daily Population Report
Nevada 12,911 1/4 12,474 5/18 12,266 7/7 11,996 8/23 11,813 9/27 11,756 10/6 11,731 10/31 Department of Correction Weekly Fact Sheets
North Carolina 34,510 1/1 32,795 5/1 31,929 6/30 31,704 8/24 30,970 9/30 30,962 10/8 30,742 10/29 30,353 11/19 Vera’s People in Prison, 2019; Department of Public Safety Statistics: Offender Population
North Dakota 1,794 1/1 1,461 5/1 1,380 7/1 1,363 8/24 1,348 10/8 1,394 11/19 Vera’s People in Prison, 2019; Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation Operational Capacity Daily Count
Oklahoma 24,749 1/6 23,663 5/4 22,425 6/29 22,033 8/24 21,835 9/21 21,747 10/5 21,689 11/2 21,714 11/16 Department of Corrections Weekly Count
Pennsylvania 45,875 1/1 43,394 4/30 41,572 6/30 40,616 8/24 40,028 9/30 39,818 10/8 39,430 11/1 39,299 11/19 Vera’s People in Prison, 2019; Department of Corrections COVID-19 Dashboard
South Carolina 18,608 1/1 18,160 5/1 16,836 7/12 16,215 8/24 15,971 9/30 15,992 10/8 15,804 10/31 15,957 11/19 Vera’s People in Prison, 2019; Inmate and Bed Counts of SCDC Institutions
Utah 6,731 1/1 6,064 5/1 5,859 6/4 5,700 8/24 Vera’s People in Prison, 2019; Department of Corrections Population Dashboard (no longer available)
Vermont 1,608 1/1 1,369 5/1 1,414 7/1 1,410 8/21 1,413 9/30 1,388 10/8 1,373 11/2 1,369 11/18 Vera’s People in Prison, 2019; Department of Corrections Past Daily Population Data
Wisconsin 23,672 1/3 22,342 5/1 21,388 7/3 21,337 8/21 21,098 9/25 21,052 10/2 20,867 10/30 20,693 11/13 Department of Corrections Weekly Population Reports


A recent study of recently incarcerated people finds that witnessing violence is a frequent and traumatizing experience in prison.

by Emily Widra, December 2, 2020

Early this year — before COVID-19 began to tear through U.S. prisons — five people were killed in Mississippi state prisons over the course of one week. A civil rights lawyer reported in February that he was receiving 30 to 60 letters each week describing pervasive “beatings, stabbings, denial of medical care, and retaliation for grievances” in Florida state prisons. That same month, people incarcerated in the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Massachusetts filed a lawsuit documenting allegations of abuse at the hands of correctional officers, including being tased, punched, and attacked by guard dogs.

While these horrific stories received some media coverage, the plague of violence behind bars is often overlooked and ignored. And when it does receive public attention, a discussion of the effects on those forced to witness this violence is almost always absent. Most people in prison want to return home to their families without incident, and without adding time to their sentences by participating in further violence. But during their incarceration, many people become unwilling witnesses to horrific and traumatizing violence, as brought to light in a February publication by Professors Meghan Novisky and Robert Peralta.

In their study — one of the first studies on this subject — Novisky and Peralta interview recently incarcerated people about their experiences with violence behind bars. They find that prisons have become “exposure points” for extreme violence that undermines rehabilitation, reentry, and mental and physical health. Because this is a qualitative (rather than quantitative) study based on extensive open-ended interviews, the results are not necessarily generalizable. However, studies like this provide insight into individual experiences and point to areas in need of further study.

Participants in Novisky and Peralta’s study reported witnessing frequent, brutal acts of violence, including stabbings, attacks with scalding substances, multi-person assaults, and murder. They also described the lingering effects of witnessing these traumatic events, including hypervigilance, anxiety, depression, and avoidance. These traumatic events affect health and social function in ways that are not so different from the aftereffects faced by survivors of direct violence and war.

Violence behind bars is inescapable and traumatizing

Violence in prison is unavoidable. By design, prisons offer few safe spaces where one can sneak away — and those that exist offer only a small measure of protection. Novisky and Peralta’s findings echo previous research revealing that incarcerated people often “feel safer” in their private spaces, such as cells, or in a supervised or structured public space, such as a chapel, rather than in public spaces like showers, reception, or on their unit. However, even inside their cells, people remain vulnerable to seeing or hearing violence and being victimized themselves.

Participants in Novisky and Peralta’s study discussed graphic, horrific acts of violence they had witnessed during their incarceration: stabbings, beatings, broken bones, and attacks with makeshift weapons. Some participants were even forced into direct, involuntary participation, by being required to clean up blood after an attack or murder. “I used so much bleach in that bathroom … I just couldn’t look,” one participant recalled. “I just kept pouring the bleach in it [the blood], and pouring the bleach in it, and then I would mop it.” As the authors succinctly state, “the burdens of violence are placed not just on the direct victims, but also on witnesses of violence.”

Responses to witnessed violence behind bars can result in post-traumatic stress symptoms, like anxiety, depression, avoidance, hypersensitivity, hypervigilance, suicidality, flashbacks, and difficulty with emotional regulation. Participants described experiencing flashbacks and being hypervigilant, even after release. One participant explained: “I’m trying to change my life and my thinking. But it [the violence] always pops up. I get flashbacks about it … just how the violence is. In a split second you can be cool. And then the next thing you know, there’s people getting stabbed or a fight breaks out over nothin’.”

The effects of witnessing violence are compounded by pre-existing mental health conditions, which are more common in prisons and jails than in the general public. As one participant in the Novisky and Peralta study put it, prison is no place to recover from past traumas or to manage ongoing mental health concerns: “I don’t think it [prison] made my PTSD worse, it just made the PTSD I already had trigger the symptoms.”

graph showing percent of people in prison experiencing physical or sexual violence

Violence in prison by the numbers

Prisons are inherently violent places where incarcerated people (often with their own histories of victimization and trauma) are frequently exposed to violence with disastrous consequences. Because there is no national survey of how many people witness violence behind bars, we compiled data from various Bureau of Justice Statistics surveys and a 2010 nationally representative study to show the prevalence of violence. The table below shows the most recent data available,1 although it is likely that many of these events are underreported.

Given the vast number of violent interactions occurring behind bars, as well as the close quarters and scarce privacy in correctional facilities, it is likely that most or all incarcerated people witness some kind of violence.

Estimating the prevalence of violence in prisons and jails
Reported incidents and estimates
Indicator of violence State prisons Federal prisons County jails Source
Deaths by suicide in correctional facility 255 deaths in 2016 333 deaths in 2016 Mortality in State and Federal Prisons, 2001-2016; Mortality in Local Jails, 2000-2016
Deaths by homicide in correctional facility 95 deaths in 2016 31 deaths in 2016
“Intentionally injured” by staff or other incarcerated person since admission to prison 14.8% of incarcerated people in 2004 8.3% of incarcerated people in 2004 Survey of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities, 2004
“Staff-on-inmate assaults” 21% of incarcerated men were assaulted by staff over 6 months in 2005 Wolff & Shi, 2010
“Inmate-on-inmate assaults” 26,396 assaults in 2005 Census of State and Federal Adult Correctional Facilities, 2005
Incidents of sexual victimization of incarcerated people (perpetrated by staff and incarcerated people) 16,940 reported incidents in 2015 740 reported incidents in 2015 5,809 reported incidents in 2015 Survey of Sexual Victimization, 2015
1,473 substantiated incidents in state and federal prisons and local jails in 2015

Prison is rarely the first place that incarcerated people experience violence

Even before entering a prison or jail, incarcerated people are more likely than those on the outside to have experienced abuse and trauma. An extensive 2014 study found that 30% to 60% of men in state prisons had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), compared to 3% to 6% of the general male population. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 36.7% of women in state prisons experienced childhood abuse, compared to 12 to 17% of all adult women in the U.S. (although this research has not been updated since 1999). In fact, at least half of incarcerated women identify at least one traumatic event in their lives.

The effects of this earlier trauma carries over into people’s incarceration. Most people entering prison have experienced a “legacy of victimization” that puts them at higher risk for substance use, PTSD, depression, and criminal behavior. Irritability and aggressive behavior are also common responses to trauma, either acutely or as symptoms of PTSD. Rather than providing treatment or rehabilitation to disrupt the ongoing trauma that justice-involved people often face, existing research suggests our criminal justice system functions in a way that only perpetuates a cycle of violence. It is not surprising, then, that violence behind bars is common.

The relationship between past traumas and violence in prisons is further illuminated by a growing body of psychological research revealing that traumatic experiences (direct or indirect) increase the likelihood of mental illnesses. And we know that incarcerated people with a history of mental health problems are more likely to engage in physical or verbal assault against staff or other incarcerated people.2

Violence continues after release

The cycle of violence also continues after prison. An analysis of homicide victims in Baltimore, Maryland, found that the vast majority were justice system-involved, and one in four victims were on parole or probation at the time of their murder. Other research has found that formerly incarcerated Black adults are more likely than those with no history of incarceration to be beaten, mugged, raped, sexually assaulted, stalked, or to witness another person being seriously injured.

“Gladiator school” and ties to PTSD among veterans

While the effects of witnessing violence in correctional facilities have not been extensively studied, Novisky and Peralta’s findings are reminiscent of the significant body of psychological research about veterans, witnessed violence, and post-traumatic stress symptoms. And while a prison is not a war zone, the study participants themselves made these comparisons, describing prison as “going through a nuclear war,” “a jungle where only the strong survive,” “needing to go be ready to go to war constantly,” and “gladiator school.” Veterans, regardless of exposure to combat, are disproportionately at risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and can experience the same debilitating symptoms of PTSD that Novisky and Peralta document among recently incarcerated people.

In an article drawing attention to PTSD among our nation’s veterans, journalist Sebastian Junger describes his own experience with symptoms of PTSD after witnessing violence in Afghanistan. Importantly, he points out that only about 10 percent of our armed forces actually see combat, so the exorbitantly high rates of PTSD among returning servicemembers are not only caused by direct exposure to danger.3 The extensive psychological research on witnessed violence among veterans helps us better understand the risks of witnessing violence in other contexts; with the findings from Novisky and Peralta’s study, we can see a similar pattern of post-traumatic stress symptoms among incarcerated people who have witnessed acts of violence, even if they did not participate directly.

Witnessing violence — whether on a neighborhood block, prison unit, or a battlefield — carries serious ramifications. Exposure to this kind of stress can lead to poor health outcomes, such as cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disorders, and even certain cancers, which are compounded by inadequate correctional health care. Previous research has also shown that violent prison conditions — including direct victimization, the perception of a threatening prison environment, and hostile relationships with correctional officers — increase the likelihood of recidivism.

Moving forward

Novisky and Peralta’s study should be read as a call for more research — and concern — about prison violence. Future research should focus on the effects of witnessed violence on further marginalized populations, including women, youth, transgender people, people with disabilities, and people of color behind bars.

The researchers also recommend policy changes related to their findings. In prisons, they recommend trauma-informed training of correctional staff, assessing incarcerated people to identify those most at risk for victimization, and the expansion of correctional healthcare to include more robust mental health and trauma-informed services. They also recommend that providers in the reentry system receive training regarding the potential consequences of exposure to extreme violence behind bars, such as PTSD, distrust, and anxiety.

While it is important to address the immediate, serious needs of people dealing with the trauma of prison violence, the only way to truly minimize the harm is to limit exposure to the violent prison environment. That means, at a minimum, taking Novisky and Peralta’s final recommendation to heart: changing the “overall frequency with which incarceration is relied upon as a sanction.” We need to reduce lengthy sentences and divert more people from incarceration to more supportive interventions. It also means changing how we respond to violence, as we explore in more depth in our April 2020 report about sentences for violent offenses, Reforms without Results.

Vast research with veterans shows that trauma comes not only from direct violent victimization, but can also stem from witnessing violence. Research among non-incarcerated populations further shows that trauma and chronic stress have a number of adverse effects on the human mind and body. And studies done behind bars show us that incarceration takes a toll on physical and mental health, and that accessing adequate care in prison is a challenge in and of itself. With all of these factors at play and with violence undermining what little rehabilitative effect the justice system hopes to have, we are stacking the cards against incarcerated people.

 

 

Footnotes

  1. The forthcoming release of data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics Survey of Prison Inmates, 2016 (expected before 2021), will provide updated information.  ↩

  2. Based on data from 2011 to 2012, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that 14.2% of people who indicate experiencing serious psychological distress in the past 30 days are written up or charged with some kind of assault while incarcerated in state prison, compared to 11.6% of people with any history of mental health problems, and 4.1% of people with no indications of mental health problems.  ↩

  3. Studies of U.S. Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans suggest that the lifetime prevalence of PTSD for veterans is anywhere from 13.5% (which is more than double that of the general population) to 30%.  ↩









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