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January 11th, 2022Joshua Manson

New report shows prison releases decreased during the pandemic, despite a drop in incarceration

Last month, the Bureau of Justice Statistics released a report showing that state and federal prison populations dropped nearly 15 percent from 2019 to 2020. During the same time, however, the number of people released from prison also dropped, by nearly 10 percent.

Recent Posts

November 3rd, 2021Joshua Manson

The Biden Administration Plans to Send Thousands of Medically Vulnerable People Back to Federal Prisons. Here’s Why That Would Be a Deadly Mistake.

The Biden administration is set to implement a Trump administration decision to send thousands of medically vulnerable people back to prison. Our new report shows why this would be a public health disaster.

September 29th, 2021

Study: Hispanic people in Texas prisons dying of COVID-19 at rate double their White peers, Black people dying at rate 1.6 times

A survey of deaths in Texas prisons found that Hispanic and Black populations in prison have died of COVID-19 at rates far exceeding their White peers.

September 24th, 2021

Testimony to Georgia House Democratic Caucus Committee on Crisis in Prisons

This week, we provided testimony to the Georgia House Democratic Caucus Committee on Crisis in Prisons on the state of COVID-19 in Georgia state prisons. Here's what we said.

September 10th, 2021Victoria Finkle and Hope Johnson

The Life or Death Stakes of Partisan Politics Behind Bars

A recent study reveals that federal judges appointed by Democrats were far more likely to grant compassionate release during the pandemic than those appointed by Republicans. But emergency release should be about public health, not partisan politics.

September 1st, 2021Marjorie Naila Segule

The Vaccine Rollout Is Leaving Behind Incarcerated Children

Record numbers of children are being hospitalized for COVID-19 across the country. But still, children who are incarcerated or held in state custody are being left behind in the vaccine rollout.

August 27th, 2021Michael Everett

How We Utilize Public Records Requests to Obtain the Data Carceral Agencies Don’t Report

In June 2020, we established a public records investigative team to obtain the COVID data carceral agencies don't publish. Since then, we've utilized state and federal public records statutes to request and collect pandemic-related data from a range of governmental bodies.

August 20th, 2021Sharon Dolovich, Erika Tyagi, and Neal Marquez

The states that lead the nation in COVID-19 cases are hiding their prison data

As the Delta variant causes surges across the country, the states with the greatest increases in new cases are also the least transparent about the spread of COVID-19 behind bars.

August 12th, 2021Erika Tyagi and Joshua Manson

Prison Staff are Refusing Vaccines. Incarcerated People are Paying the Price.

With COVID-19 case numbers rising across the country, prisons workers remain largely unvaccinated, but agencies are doubling down on restrictions for incarcerated people.

August 10th, 2021Dylan Lee

Health is Justice Litigation Hub: A Tool for Advocates and Researchers

Have a legal research question about COVID behind bars? Check out the Health Is Justice Litigation Hub, a collaboration between the UCLA Law COVID Behind Bars Data Project, Zealous, the Center for Institutional and Social Change at Columbia Law School, and the Bronx Defenders, a searchable database of court decisions and legal filings relating to the pandemic behind bars.

August 4th, 2021Cecilia Bobbitt, Vincent Liu, and Sara Zukerman

Spotlight on Dataset of Grassroots and Community Organizing Efforts around COVID Behind Bars

We've been collecting data related to grassroots organizing efforts since the start of the pandemic. Here's what we've found.

July 30th, 2021Hope Johnson, Erika Tyagi, Joshua Manson, and Neal Marquez

As the Delta variant causes new outbreaks in prisons, now is the time for more transparency, not less

Over the past two months, more and more carceral agencies have taken their COVID-19 data dashboards offline or reduced the amount of information they report concerning the health of the people who live and work in their prisons.

July 27th, 2021Neal Marquez and Joshua Manson

New report shows decarceration necessary to prevent continued COVID-19 outbreaks in ICE detention

We released a report highlighting the importance of decarceration to prevent continued COVID-19 surges among people held in ICE detention.

July 20th, 2021Hope Johnson

New Government Report Confirms Low Grant Rates of Compassionate Release During Pandemic, Need for Greater Transparency

Last week, the United States Sentencing Commission released an analysis of federal compassionate release motions filed during the pandemic. The data release was a first step toward transparency, but came too late for thousands of medically vulnerable incarcerated people.

June 25th, 2021Erika Tyagi and Poornima Rajeshwar

Counting the Shots: COVID-19 Vaccinations Behind Bars

As we continue to survey the vaccine rollout in prison systems across the country, we have identified several key takeaways that raise cause for concern.

June 23rd, 2021Erika Tyagi and Liz DeWolf

The challenges of interpreting vaccination data reported by carceral agencies

Through our Data Reporting & Quality Scorecards, we’ve noted the chronic lack of transparency and generally poor data reporting from carceral agencies. This problem has only been exacerbated as agencies have refused to report the nuances of vaccine administration.

June 21st, 2021Erika Tyagi, Poornima Rajeshwar, and Liz DeWolf

FINAL UPDATE: Data Reporting & Quality Scorecard, Round 4

Since March, we’ve been assigning scores to carceral agencies based on the granularity of the COVID-19 variables they report, as well as the quality of those data. This month, as with the two previous scoring rounds, more than 80% of agencies received an F.

May 17th, 2021Erika Tyagi, Poornima Rajeshwar, and Liz DeWolf

UPDATE: Data Reporting & Quality Scorecard, Round 3

As the vaccine rollout has picked up, we've updated the transparency scores we're giving each carceral agency. This time, 83% of agencies failed.

April 26th, 2021Joshua Manson

Department of Justice Report Shines Light on the Pandemic in Local Jails

A report released last month by the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) contains previously unreleased data showing the spread of COVID-19 in the nation’s jails during the early months of the pandemic. We identified several key takeaways.

April 22nd, 2021Joshua Manson

Life Expectancy in Florida Prisons Plummeted During Pandemic, Study Finds

A survey of deaths in Florida prisons during the COVID-19 pandemic has found that average life expectancy for incarcerated people dropped four years, more than quadruple the decline for the U.S. population as a whole

April 19th, 2021Erika Tyagi, Poornima Rajeshwar, and Liz DeWolf

UPDATE: Data Reporting & Quality Scorecard, Round 2

In March, we released our Data Reporting & Quality Scorecards assessing the transparency of each of the 53 major state and federal agencies. On April 12th, we reassessed the scores and grades for each agency. In the first round of assessments, 75% of correctional agencies received an F. In this round, 81% of agencies did.

April 15th, 2021Joshua Manson

Data Projects Submit Joint Testimony to Congress on the Bureau of Prisons’ Mismanagement of the Pandemic in Federal Prisons

The UCLA Law COVID Behind Bars Data Project, the COVID Prison Project, and the COVID, Corrections, and Oversight Project at the University of Texas at Austin submitted joint testimony to Congress outlining failures by the Federal Bureau of Prisons to manage and report on COVID-19 in its facilities.

April 15th, 2021Poornima Rajeshwar and Erika Tyagi

Vaccine Hesitancy Behind Bars: Causes and Concerns

A new MMWR study finds that distrust of correctional institutions and lack of information are leading causes for COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among incarcerated people. Correctional agencies must take crucial steps to inspire confidence in the vaccine and encourage uptake of this life-saving inoculation.

April 7th, 2021Sharon Dolovich and Poornima Rajeshwar

SARS-CoV-2 Variants go to Prison: What Now?

In the last two months, the presence of SARS-CoV-2 variants has been reported in three prison systems. The variants are more contagious and can accelerate viral spread. To avoid a corresponding increase in infections and deaths, corrections officials must adopt a multi-pronged strategy of regular testing, vaccination, and decarceration.

April 2nd, 2021Joshua Manson and Liz DeWolf

The Federal Bureau of Prisons Is Even Less Transparent Than We’d Thought

In recent weeks, the BOP has reported a decrease in total COVID-19 cases — an illogical trend for a number that presumably can only increase over time. An agency spokesperson informed us that the drop in reported cases was not, in fact, an error. Rather, it was the outcome of an intentional reporting choice.

March 30th, 2021Erika Tyagi, Liz DeWolf, and Joshua Manson

Two Months (And Counting) Without Critical COVID-19 Data from Pennsylvania Prisons

In January, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections removed its data dashboard due to “technical challenges.” More than two months later, we’re still missing critical data.

March 25th, 2021Ishan Nagpal, Theresa Cheng, and Joshua Manson

Data Project Adds ICE Detention Page to its Website

This week, we added a page to our website showing the spread of COVID-19 among people in ICE detention.

March 22nd, 2021Joshua Manson

“An Afterthought”: A Few of The Ways That The Prison Law Office Has Renewed Longstanding Battles For Prisoner Rights and Safety During the Pandemic

The Prison Law Office has adapted its longstanding battles against overcrowding, inadequate health care, and other dangerous conditions in jails and prisons during the COVID-19 pandemic.

March 17th, 2021Liz DeWolf, Poornima Rajeshwar, and Erika Tyagi

Missing the Mark: Data Reporting & Quality Scorecard

We created a scorecard to assess 53 state and federal carceral agencies on what COVID-19 data they report and how they report them. 41 agencies — more than 75% — failed.

March 9th, 2021Joshua Manson

Data Project Adds Vaccine Counts to Data Dashboard

We've added a table to our home page showing the numbers of incarcerated people and staff in certain state and federal systems who have received at least a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

March 3rd, 2021Victoria Rossi

Prisons mistreat loved ones’ belongings after their deaths, some families say

Families report that correctional staff have mishandled or neglected their relatives’ personal effects after their deaths, adding pain to already tragic circumstances. During the pandemic, more and more families have become familiar with the especially devastating consequences of losing a loved one behind bars, whether of COVID-19 or of other causes.

February 25th, 2021Joshua Manson

New Analysis Reveals Devastating Toll of COVID-19 on Prison Employees

A new article published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine has found that staff of U.S. prisons are three times as likely to contract COVID-19 as the general U.S. population. The study’s authors cross-referenced data collected by the UCLA Law COVID Behind Bars Data Project with publicly available personnel data from state and federal departments of corrections to measure the scale of what they called an “unprecedented occupational hazard” for employees of American prisons.

February 18th, 2021Joshua Manson

Who’s Getting the Vaccine Behind Bars?

As COVID-19 vaccines are becoming available to more and more people across the United States, one especially vulnerable population is often left behind: people who are incarcerated.

February 17th, 2021Erika Tyagi and Liz DeWolf

Which State and Federal Carceral Systems Report COVID-19 Data?

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the UCLA Law COVID Behind Bars Data Project has been collecting COVID-19 data from the online dashboards maintained by correctional agencies nationwide. These agencies vary in what and how much data they publicly report. We’ve created visualizations to highlight the gaps in reporting by state and federal correctional agencies as of February 17, 2021.

February 16th, 2021Maya Chaudhuri

Vaccine Guide in Prison Legal News

This month, the UCLA Law COVID Behind Bars Data Project published an article in Prison Legal News addressing common concerns about the coronavirus vaccines among incarcerated people deciding whether to be vaccinated.