map showing the distribution in scores awarded to each state based on basic policies addressing health needs in the face of COVID-19

(Graph: Emily Widra, 2021)

This graph originally appeared in States of emergency: The failure of prison system responses to COVID-19.

Some of the easiest policies to implement in response to COVID-19 were for departments of corrections to provide free video and phone calls, masks, and hygiene products to incarcerated people. In addition, suspending medical co-pays (which can discourage people from seeking treatment), requiring staff to wear masks, and implementing regular staff COVID-19 testing are some of the bare minimum COVID-19 mitigation efforts. 8 state prison systems did not provide free phone calls at any point since March 2020, leaving thousands of people in prison isolated from their friends and families during the deadly pandemic. For detailed information on which policies were implemented in each state, see the basic policy changes appendix table.

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