November 17th, 2021 • Aparna Komarla
COVID-19 vaccination data in California jails: lessons from an imperfect model
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, advocates, organizers, and scholars have raised concerns about the poor quality of data reported by carceral systems across the country. Data from local county jail systems have been especially sparse because these systems typically lack robust, standardized mechanisms for data collection and reporting.
In June 2020, California became one of three states where a state agency, the California Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC), has taken responsibility for collecting, aggregating, and reporting jail data. However, the Covid In-Custody Project, an initiative launched in March 2020 to collect COVID-19 data from California jails, has identified a number of issues with the BSCC’s data reporting practices that have prevented the agency from effectively fulfilling its intended oversight mission. For instance, the BSCC does not collect vaccination information, despite its clear public health value. As a result of such data gaps, the Covid In-Custody Project has continued its data collection efforts.
This report focuses on some of the Covid In-Custody Project’s primary concerns related to the vaccination data it has collected directly from county jail systems. Aparna Komarla, the project’s founder and director, draws attention to key issues that the BSCC and other data oversight bodies should address related to jail data collection and reporting.