Protecting vulnerable populations, including people incarcerated in the range of carceral settings nationwide, is paramount during the Covid-19 assault. The criminal legal system disproportionately impacts Black, Latinx, and low-income communities as well as other underrepresented and marginalized groups, and the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately devastated these same people. Carceral settings cannot keep people safe from COVID-19 because they do not provide opportunities for sanitation and physical distancing, and often provide inadequate medical care. Some carceral settings around the country have reported up to 88% positive COVID-19 test results for people tested, signaling that coronavirus prevalence in these places can be extremely high with the potential to devastate incarcerated people and staff in carceral settings.
. . . do not provide opportunities for necessary sanitation and physical distancing, and often provide inadequate medical care
The Justice Roundtable, a coalition of over 100 organizations working together to achieve federal policy reform of the criminal legal system, is advocating for federal support to: 1) ensure safe conditions for people who remain incarcerated, 2) reduce incarceration levels to end facility overcrowding and limit the spread of COVID-19, and 3) support safe and effective reentry to the community. Justice Roundtable’s urgent requests to Congress include policies and funding to protect people who are incarcerated from COVID-19 by providing no cost access to testing, treatment, personal protective equipment (PPE), and sanitation
Additionally, Justice Roundtable is pushing to decarcerate people vulnerable to COVID-19 who are incarcerated at the federal, state, and local level and support their reentry during the pandemic with bills such as the COVID-19 Correctional Facility Emergency Response Act. Finally, the Justice Roundtable is advocating for safe and effective reentry to the community during the pandemic by advocating for H.R. 1329, the Medicaid Reentry Act, which would provide Medicaid coverage to eligible people prior to release to facilitate better access to medical care. Justice Roundtable is urging repeal, waiver, and opposition to federal prohibitions that prevent individuals with criminal legal histories from obtaining federal benefits and cash assistance provided during the pandemic. Congress is expected to pass its next COVID-19 response package sometime in August.