Giving Compass' Take:

· This report from Prison Policy Initiative reveals the potential threat of COVID-19 in prisons if these institutions do not take steps to decarcerate soon.

· What can prisons and jails do to help slow the spread of COVID-19?  How are these institutions decarcerating and reducing incarcerated populations? 

· Check out this article about the adverse effects of coronavirus on prison oversight.

Added As pandemic threatens to devastate prison population, new report provides updated “big picture” view of incarceration in the U.S. to the Prison Policy Blog.

The Prison Policy Initiative's new "Whole Pie" report reveals what's at stake if prisons and jails do not take immediate steps to decarcerate.

As advocates urge prisons and jails to slow the spread of COVID-19 by releasing as many incarcerated people as possible, it’s more important than ever to understand how many people are locked up across the country, where, and why. The Prison Policy Initiative’s new edition of Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie,released today, answers these essential questions with the most recent data.

“Now that COVID-19 is entering prisons and jails, our failure to end mass incarceration is making itself known as a public health crisis,” said Executive Director Peter Wagner. “If policymakers want to prevent a human tragedy from taking place in prisons and jails, they need to do what they’ve been refusing to do since we published our first Whole Pie report: shrink the incarcerated population to a fraction of what it is today.”

Even under normal circumstances, the lack of available data about the criminal justice system poses a significant obstacle to policymakers and advocates seeking to reform that system. In the face of the current crisis, clear facts are essential to quickly and safely downsizing prison and jail populations. This year’s Whole Pie report answers that need, providing the comprehensive view of mass incarceration necessary to make sound decisions today and, when this crisis passes, to plot a long-term path forward.

Read the full article about COVID-19 in prisons by Wendy Sawyer and Peter Wagner at Prison Policy Initiative.