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Biden Ignores COVID-19 Crisis in Prisons and Jails

WASHINGTON -

Tonight’s address from President Biden, commemorating one-year since the declaration of the Coronavirus Pandemic, ignored a devastating component of the government’s response to the virus – limited relief for incarcerated people. More than 626,000 people in prisons and jails nationwide have been infected and at least 2,790 have died from COVID-19, according to The New York Times. The newly passed $1.9 trillion relief package takes no steps to protect incarcerated people during the pandemic, despite their unique vulnerability to infection due to overcrowded and unsanitary living conditions and compromised health factors.

The Sentencing Project's Deputy Director, Kara Gotsch, issued the following statement in response to the inaction:

“Since the onset of this deadly pandemic, health experts, people incarcerated and their families, and justice reform activists have documented the devastating consequences of a virus unchecked in our nation’s prisons, jails and detention centers. People in custody remain fearful of infection and death, and their access to life-saving vaccinations is limited. Public health experts have repeatedly urged officials to decarcerate federal, state and local facilities, prioritize elderly and sick people for release, fully fund medical care and protective equipment for people who remain incarcerated, and support safe reentry services for people coming home. If these immediate steps are not taken, more of our people will die preventable deaths. Congress and the President are not done yet.”

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The Sentencing Project is a leader in changing the way Americans think about crime and punishment. The Sentencing Project promotes effective and humane responses to crime that minimize imprisonment and criminalization of youth and adults by promoting racial, ethnic, economic, and gender justice.

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