September 24th, 2021
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.
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, 2021 • Marjorie Naila Segule
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, 2021 • Michael Everett
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.
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.
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, 2021 • Dylan Lee
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.
We've been collecting data related to grassroots organizing efforts since the start of the pandemic. Here's what we've found.
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.
We released a report highlighting the importance of decarceration to prevent continued COVID-19 surges among people held in ICE detention.
July 20th, 2021 • Hope 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.
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.
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.
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.
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, 2021 • Joshua Manson
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, 2021 • Joshua Manson
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
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, 2021 • Joshua 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This week, we added a page to our website showing the spread of COVID-19 among people in ICE detention.
March 22nd, 2021 • Joshua 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.
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, 2021 • Joshua Manson
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, 2021 • Victoria Rossi
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, 2021 • Joshua Manson
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, 2021 • Joshua Manson
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.
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.