COVID-19: archived resources
The following resources that we and our partners have produced about COVID-19 and the criminal justice system used to be on our main COVID-19 page. We have archived them on this page in case readers need to find them in the future.
Selected demand letters and policy recommendations from other groups:
These are examples of some of the most powerful demand letters and policy recommendations made by experts around the country about mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in prisons and jails.
- Several organizations have recommended programs and policies to support people being released from prisons and jails during the pandemic:
- A coalition of formerly incarcerated people and current volunteers and employees of the Indiana correctional system proposed a model emergency release plan that addresses housing, quarantine, and healthcare issues.
- The Justice Collaborative Institute published a report in early May recommending ways to secure housing, medical care, smartphones, and other critical resources for returning citizens.
- The Council of State Governments Justice Center and the National Sheriffs' Association created a checklist for correctional facilities to prepare people for release and reentry. The checklist addresses COVID-19 testing, legal discharge processes, basic needs, and medical and substance abuse treatment.
- Amend at the University of California San Francisco released a short policy paper recommending ways to release people from prisons and "cohort" those still incarcerated to slow the spread of the virus.
- Advocates in Cook County, Illinois, Los Angeles, and Detroit published demands for the release of people from local jails.
- The NYC Board of Corrections (an independent oversight body) released a statement calling for the immediate release of people who are over 50 years old, have underlying health conditions, are detained for administrative reasons such as failure to appear, and people serving sentences of less than one year.
- The Bail Project released 6 sensible demands for jails to protect the public by: 1) releasing people who are held because they cannot afford a cash bond, 2) utilizing "cite and release" for people charged with misdemeanors, 3) prioritizing release for people in vulnerable demographics, 4) reducing conditions and restrictions around release, 5) protecting meaningful access to counsel and pretrial support, and 6) providing appropriate care and hygiene to those who remain incarcerated.
- Fair and Just Prosecution released a joint statement from numerous elected prosecutors recommending use of cite and release policies, releasing those people detained because they cannot afford bail, release vulnerable people, and eliminate medical copays.
- Youth Correctional Leaders for Justice released a statement -- endorsed by current and former youth corrections administrators -- making recommendations for youth correctional facilities to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Their recommendations include population reduction, elimination of fines and fees, and opportunities for detained youth to communicate with family.
- On March 23, the CDC released guidelines for correctional and detention facilties to protect the health and safety of incarcerated people, staff, visitors, and the community at large.
Data for Progress conducted a survey of 2,509 likely voters and found that across political parties, support for criminal justice reform to mitigate the risks of COVID-19 was strong. Respondents supported the reduction of jail and prison populations, releasing people within 6 months of completing their sentences, releasing at-risk individuals, and reducing unnecessary jail admissions.
Tools for legal action and advocacy:
The Civil Rights Corps released a template for emergency motions for pretrial release that advocates can file in any criminal case.