Earlier this year, as the Coronavirus rapidly swept across international and state borders, it also made its way into jails and prisons, which house one of the most vulnerable and high-risk populations. Due to limited access to personal protective equipment (PPE), a restricted ability to easily practice necessary social distancing or follow the recommended preventative guidelines for hygiene and sanitation, and lack access to adequate healthcare, people in prison are at high risk for contracting and transmitting the virus as well as experiencing long-term complications. In the midst of a global pandemic and national emergency, people who are incarcerated are trapped in an even more precarious position without the autonomy to properly social distance, sanitize, and shelter in place. Below is a list of a list of COVID-19-related resources and information that was compiled and curated for justice-involved people who are directly impacted by the pandemic, those who are interested in educating themselves on how the pandemic is affecting incarcerated and justice-involved populations, and those who are interested in getting involved in advocacy efforts. This list will continue to be updated with new information. If you have a resource that you would like to see included, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Missouri Department of Corrections: COVID-19 Data
The Missouri Department of Corrections (MDOC) has been tracking COVID-19 cases among staff and incarcerated individuals in all state adult institutions.
The Marshall Project: A State by State Look at Coronavirus in Prison
The Marshall Project has been collecting and tracking data on COVID-19 infections of incarcerated individuals and prison staff in state and federal prisons throughout the U.S.
The Marshall Project: How Prisons in Each State Are Restricting Visits Due to Coronavirus
The Marshall Project breaks down different states’ prison responses to COVID-19.
The Marshall Project: Coronavirus – A Curated Collection of Links
The Marshall Project has curated (and continues to update) a list of news articles related to COVID-19 and jails/prisons.
Prison Policy Initiative: Responses to the COVID-19 pandemic
Prison Policy Initiative has compiled news and updates on different prison and jail responses to COVID-19 throughout the U.S. (i.e. early releases, reducing unnecessary face-to-face contact, eliminating medical co-pays, etc.)
The Bail Project: Urging Jail Releases Amid Coronavirus Spread
The Bail Project explains why jail releases are important to help stop the spread of Coronavirus as well as steps that jails can take to protect the community.
The Marshall Project: Jails are Coronavirus Hotbeds, How Many People Should Be Released to Slow the Spread?
This article explores what can be done to slow the spread of Coronavirus in jails and prisons and why they are breeding grounds for COVID-19.
The Marshall Project: How Federal Prisons Became Coronavirus Death Traps
This article by The Marshall Project and VICE News documents the personal story of Sonia Rodriguez and her fiancé Johnny Joe “JJ” Desilva Jr. as JJ deals with Coronavirus on the inside in a prison in Elkton, Ohio. The article also details the conditions within the prison, based on a letter sent from another incarcerated individual.
PEP: Students’ COVID-19 Perspectives & Reflections
In June, PEP students shared their stories, reflections, opinions, and creative work in order to highlight their personal experiences with coping with and living through the COVID-19 pandemic
John Oliver, Last Week Tonight: Coronavirus VIII: Prisons & Jails
John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight episode discusses why COVID-19 spreads so rapidly in prisons and jails and what can be done to stop it.
The Alliance for Higher Education in Prison: Coronavirus Community Conversations
The Alliance for HEP hosts community conversations each week pertaining to different topics in response and related to the Coronavirus. Notes from each call can be found in the above document.
Prison Policy Initiative: Five ways the criminal justice system could slow the pandemic
Prison Policy Initiative details five quick action steps the criminal justice system can focus on to help to slow the spread of COVID-19.
COVID-19 Decarcerate Syllabus
Curated by the California Coalition for Women Prisoners, the COVID-19 Decarcerate Syllabus is a curated list of recommended readings pertaining to the dangers of COVID-19 in prison, fighting COVID-19, the problems with prison healthcare, post-incarceration for those who are released early, and the prison industrial complex.
Education Justice Project: COVID-19 Reentry Guide
In May, the Education Justice Project (EJP) released a guide for incarcerated individuals who are being/have been released through medical furlough or are at the end of their sentence to help navigate re-entry during COVID-19.
The Justice Collaborative: COVID-19 Response & Resources
The Justice Collaborative has compiled a response and resources page in an effort to compile important information, proposed policies, and more to better understand the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the prison system. Included are: fact sheets for different practices that jails, prosecutors and law enforcement can adapt to prevent the spread of Coronavirus, decarceral guidelines, emergency response demand lists, and a compilation of different action items that can be taken, such as signing petitions and sending letters.
Legal Services for Prisoners with Children: Coronavirus Manual for Incarcerated Individuals
This manual reviews Coronavirus precautions, how to advocate for those precautions and how to request release due to Coronavirus.
WEPOWER: COVID-19 Resources
WEPOWER, Arch City Defenders and Clark-Fox Family Foundation have teamed up to create a resource guide to help families in St. Louis navigate COVID-19. This extensive guide includes information on financial support, health, food, jobs, education, housing, support networks and much more.
The Alliance for Higher Education in Prison: COVID-19 Action Page
The Alliance’s COVID-19 Action page compiles events and information about COVID-19 advocacy, higher education in prison, resources for health and wellness, student responses to COVID-19, and more. We have pulled some of the resources listed and included them on this page, but click on the link above to view all of their resources.
Sylvia Rivera Law Project: Self-Care on the Inside Guide
Sylvia Rivera Law Project’s guide offers tips and activity ideas for individuals who are currently incarcerated on how to take care of oneself through this pandemic, and in general.
Beyond Prisons: Prisoner Support Guide for the Coronavirus Crisis
Beyond Prisons’ Prisoner Support Guide is a guide to offer help to incarcerated individuals during the Coronavirus pandemic. It also provides opportunities and ideas for how those outside can support incarcerated individuals.
World Health Organization (WHO): Preparedness, prevention & control of COVID-19 in prisons guide
The WHO’s guide to preparing and preventing the spread of COVID-19 acknowledges the vulnerability incarcerated individuals have in this pandemic, provides information regarding COVID-19, and outlines preparedness guidelines and approaches that should be taken.
Vera Institute of Justice: Compiled Coronavirus Guidance Resources for Criminal and Immigration Systems
The Vera Institute of Justice has compiled multiple different resources for criminal and immigration systems with recommendations for how to handle Coronavirus, which can be adopted by courts, police, jails, prions, detention centers, and more.
Tennessee Higher Education in Prison Initiative (THEI): Using Zoom Instructional Delivery for Higher Education in Prison Programs A Rationale and Proposal
THEI’s proposal details how and why higher education in prison can and should continue amidst COVID-19.
Vera Institute of Justice: Reshaping Course Delivery in Response to COVID-19
This presentation from Vera covers how COVID-19 affects Second Chance Pell eligibility and the different options for course delivery as a response to COVID-19.
The Bail Project: COVID-19 Action Page
The Bail Project’s action page allows you to put in your address to search for your city, county, and state representatives and their contact information, and provides a script to use for e-mails and phone calls to urge them to take action and protect incarcerated individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic.
PEP: COVID-19 Advocacy Letter
A PEP alumnus recently wrote a letter to Missouri CURE to highlight the unsafe conditions in the Transitional Housing Unit at Farmington Correctional Center. The template letter can be used to send letters to policymakers and officials and can also be adapted for other advocacy efforts.
Donate to a Reentry Fund
There are many different reentry funds that can be found through social media or online, depending where you are located. If you are a part of the St. Louis community, consider donating to the STL Reentry Fund. Their website can be found here, and their Instagram can be found here.
Donate to a Bail Fund
The National Bail Fund Network has compiled a directory of bail funds organized by state as well as a fund for COVID-19 emergency response and a list of bail funds specifically for protestors.
Prison Policy Initiative: Advocate for People Inside (Due to Suspended Visits)
Because jails and prisons have suspended visits to slow COVID-19, phone calls and video calls are the only ways for incarcerated individuals to stay in touch with their loved ones. Thus, it is important that these options are available at no cost. Prison Policy Initiative has created a template letter to advocate for this that can be customized and sent to a local county sheriff, jail warden, or administrator.
Participate in The Alliance for Higher Education in Prison’s Community Calendar
The Alliance for Higher Education in Prison has compiled a list of online discussions and events related to higher education in prison programs and community organizations.