October 26, 2020 Feature

Defense Attorneys Are the Best Line of Defense Against the COVID-19 Pandemic for Incarcerated People

Chiquisha R. Robinson

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, our world changed in drastic and difficult ways. Businesses were shuttered, major world events were canceled, and habits of daily life were altered in order to flatten the curve. But inside America’s jails and prisons, where the deadly virus has spread like wildfire, more than 2.3 million incarcerated people remain at risk. Wendy Sawyer & Peter Wagner, Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2020, Prison Pol’y Initiative (last visited Mar. 24, 2020). In June, three months into the pandemic, the four largest-known clusters of COVID-19 cases in the United States were all linked to correctional facilities—more than 1,200 cases were traced back to a single facility. Anna Flagg, Jails Are Coronavirus Hotbeds. How Many People Should Be Released to Slow the Spread?, FiveThirtyEight (last visited June 3, 2020); Coronavirus in the U.S.: Latest Map and Case Count, N.Y. Times, (last visited September 1, 2020) [hereinafter Coronavirus in the US].

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