Save Black Lives

Save Black Lives


The COVID-19 pandemic is disproportionately harming Black communities, where higher rates of infections, hospitalizations and deaths are occurring. Simultaneously, Black people are overrepresented in the criminal justice system and have less access to quality healthcare, putting incarcerated people at grave risk. Prisons and jails have become COVID-19 hotspots, yet lack adequate testing and protections.


Black Americans account for a disproportionate number of COVID-19 cases and deaths nationwide due to systemic factors like poverty, lack of healthcare access, frontline jobs, and crowded housing that increase exposure and transmission. These factors also contribute to higher rates of underlying health conditions that can worsen COVID-19 outcomes.


Policy Recommendations

  • Decarceration efforts should prioritize the release of vulnerable groups and address racial disparities in diverting resources to Black communities.
  • The criminal justice system should align with public health approaches to confront health inequities.
  • Adequate reentry support must be provided for those released back to communities hard-hit by COVID-19.

Key Takeaways

  • Centering race in policy solutions can help reduce COVID-19’s disparate impact on Black communities and people in jails/prisons.
  • Incorporating perspectives of Black defenders and researchers will improve equity and effectiveness of criminal justice and public health strategies.
  • Protecting lives of incarcerated people and communities requires bold policy action and transparency from correctional facilities.