To stem the tide of COVID-19 infections both within correctional institutions and in surrounding communities, jurisdictions around the US should act immediately to reduce the number of people housed behind bars, recommend the panel of criminal justice and public health experts.

Josiah “Jody” Rich, a Brown University professor of medicine and epidemiology, joined the panel of experts that the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine assembled. The panel details its guidance on decarceration in the report they released on October 19.

Jails and prisons in the US are often overcrowded, dense, poorly ventilated, and disconnected from public health systems, making COVID-19 prevention among incarcerated people and staff exceedingly difficult, the panel reports.

As of August 2020, COVID-19 case rates among incarcerated people were nearly five times higher than in the general population, and three times higher among correctional staff.

Read the full article about reducing incarceration during COVID-19 by Kevin Stacey at Futurity.