Giving Compass' Take:

• Here are five ways that the criminal justice system could contribute to slowing down the COVID-19 pandemic. 

• How can donors work with the criminal justice system to offer guidance and support? 

• Read more about the effects of coronavirus on prison oversight.

The United States incarcerates a greater share of its population than any other nation in the world, so it is urgent that policymakers take the public health case for criminal justice reform seriously and make necessary changes to protect people in prisons, in jails, on probation, and on parole.

Below, we offer five far-reaching interventions that policymakers can use to slow the spread of the virus in the criminal justice system and broader society. We previously published a list of common sense reforms that could slow the spread of the virus in jails and prisons. In light of the rapid spread of COVID-19 throughout the U.S., and specifically in prisons and jails, we found it necessary to update these recommendations with more detail about who has the power and responsibility to enact policy change, and how to reform the criminal justice system in the midst of a public health crisis.

  1. Reduce the number of people in local jails.
  2. Reduce the number of people in state and federal prisons.
  3. Eliminate unnecessary face-to-face contact for justice-involved people.
  4. Make correctional healthcare humane (and efficient) in a way that protects both health and human dignity.
  5. Don’t make this time more stressful for families (or more profitable for prison telephone providers) than absolutely necessary.

Read the full article about how the criminal justice system can slow the pandemic by Peter Wagner and Emily Widra at Prison Policy Initiative.