Opinion | America Is Letting the Coronavirus Rage Through Prisons

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“Prisons and jails experienced declines in total population (approximately 11 percent of the incarcerated population) in the first half of 2020,” according to a report on decarceration put out by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. The report notes that “these reductions appear to be mainly the result of declines in arrests, jail bookings and prison admissions related to lockdowns and the closure of state and local courts.” It continues: “The releases among sentenced jail and prison populations that have occurred have, for the most part, occurred on a case-by-case basis and have been procedurally slow and not well suited to crisis situations.”

While many jails saw a population drop during the first few months of the pandemic, the numbers of people being held in jails began climbing again over the summer, according to a September briefing by the…

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