Center on Sentencing and Corrections

Limiting COVID-19 Transmission and Mitigating the Adverse Consequences of a COVID-19 Outbreak in Correctional Settings: Release • Cohort • Test

Limiting COVID-19 Transmission and Mitigating the Adverse Consequences of a COVID-19 Outbreak in Correctional Settings: Release • Cohort • Test

Williams, Brie, Cyrus Ahalt, David Sears, Stefano Bertozzi. “Limiting COVID-19 Transmission and Mitigating the Adverse Consequences of a COVID-19 Outbreak in Correctional Settings: Release • Cohort • Test.” Amend at UCSF and UC Berkeley School of Public Health, May 4, 2020.

As of May 2020, jails and prisons accounted for more clusters (50 or more cases) of COVID-19 than any other non-healthcare setting and represent 10 of the top 15 largest such clusters (spread across seven states). Given new developments and knowledge surrounding the unique risk of coronavirus spread in U.S. correctional facilities, this document provides updated recommendations from Amend—a group of public health and corrections experts—and the University of California Berkeley. The expanded guidance includes the following urgent recommendations:

  • In facilities with one or more confirmed COVID-19 cases (resident or staff), cohort the facility population into mini-communities of as few people as possible and maintain absolute social distancing between cohorts
  • Release substantial numbers of people from facilities operating near, at, or above bed capacity—prioritizing residents age 50 and over, women, residents with a release date in the next two years and clean disciplinary record for the last two years, and residents who were not scheduled for release but have lived multiple years without disciplinary misconducts
  • Rapidly scale up local testing in response to suspected or confirmed cases

Click here to view the guidance.

Keywords: decarceration, tests, screening, population reduction, isolation, quarantine, COVID, coronavirus, movement, communication, staff, correctional officers