Above photo: KPLC.
COVID-19 could claim the lives of approximately 100,000 more people than current projections stipulate if jail populations are not dramatically and immediately reduced, according to a new epidemiological model released by the ACLU and academic research partners. The findings indicate that — even if communities across the United States continue practicing social distancing and following public health guidance — we will still experience much higher death rates if no substantial action is taken to reduce jail populations. The United States’ unique obsession with incarceration has become our Achilles heel when it comes to combatting the spread of COVID-19.
The ACLU model used data pulled from more than 1,200 midsize and large jail systems around the country, whose surrounding communities account for 90 percent of the U.S. population. It found that, unequivocally, keeping people out of jail saves lives — both inside the jail and in the surrounding community. Lives are at stake. The time to act is now.