America needs to protect the health & safety of incarcerated people during COVID-19
Incarcerated people are contracting COVID-19 at a staggering rate — largely due to overcrowding in prisons, unsanitary conditions, and a lack of access to quality healthcare services.
This is not only an alarming public health issue, but because of our country’s racist system of mass incarceration — it’s a major racial justice issue, too.
A government that incarcerates millions of people — then abandons them to be infected by a deadly virus — can’t truly be said to represent or work for everyone.
How is COVID-19 impacting people in prisons?
As of February 2021 — there have been a staggering 47,694 coronavirus cases among the approximately 125,000 individuals in Bureau of Prisons (BOP) custody. And the mortality rate among incarcerated people is more than twice that of the general population when adjusted for age, sex, and race/ethnicity. 
It’s no secret why: prisons and jails are often horrifically overcrowded — and incarcerated people often have little access to hygiene products or quality healthcare.
Our country’s racist mass incarceration system, in which Black and Brown individuals are over-policed and over criminalized, has created a prison population that overrepresents communities of color — exacerbating the disproportionate impact that the coronavirus is already having on these communities.
How do we protect the health & safety of incarcerated people during COVID-19?
President Biden must take immediate action to protect the health and safety of incarcerated individuals during the pandemic, including reducing prison and jail populations.
Public health experts have made it clear: the best way to stop the spread of the coronavirus in prison settings is to rapidly and sufficiently reduce the number of people in these facilities.
And even though the COVID-19 vaccine can have a major impact — medical experts expect that participation rates will be low, due to the BOP’s failure to invest in outreach and education.