Challenges for People Leaving Prison and Jail Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic
November 9 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm EST
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it new challenges for corrections in the United States – and exacerbated old ones. Many prison systems were already operating with severe staffing shortages, and these have grown even more urgent as correctional staff contract COVID and are forced to quarantine. Existing prison and jail buildings often fail to provide adequate appropriate room to quarantine the sick and are not wired for e-learning and telemedicine. Meanwhile, the programs and supports that people rely on to make their transitions out of prison and jail more successful have never been needed more. In particular, while employment is a key concern for many who are reentering their communities, jobs are scarce and legal barriers to employment make accessing those jobs that do exist even harder for those with criminal records. State budget shortfalls leave corrections and reentry leaders with tough decisions at a time when their need for resources is significant. In this session, we will discuss strategies and approaches that states are pursuing to control the growth of their prison populations and budgets, support the success of those who are returning to their communities, and ensure public safety.