Coronavirus & Prisons

It doesn’t take a lot of imagining to think about why prisons are going to face coronavirus outbreaks (often overcrowded, the staff leave the prison, cells and other areas within the prison aren’t set up for social distancing, etc.), and it’s already started.

  • “This Chart Shows Why The Prison Population Is So Vulnerable to COVID-19” [link]
  • “As COVID-19 Measures Grow, Prison Oversight Falls” [link]
  • “Coronavirus Transforming Jails Across the Country” [link]
  • “A coronavirus outbreak in jails or prisons could turn into a nightmare” [link]
  • Prison Policy Initiative’s tracking of “Responses to the COVID-19 pandemic” [link] and the ‘Other Resources’ section for others tracking policy changes and updates
  • “First federal inmate tests positive for coronavirus” [link]
  • “NYC jails see outbreak of coronavirus cases with exponential increase expected” [link]
  • Not entirely sure how to work around The WSJ’s subscription request right now, but I guess I’ll still link to the article: “Jails Release Prisoners, Fearing Coronavirus Outbreak” [link]

Considering that the coronavirus is a global pandemic, it’s a little hard to catch everything in a search of international prison news. I’ve got Penal Reform International’s briefing on Coronavirus: Healthcare and human rights of people in prison, a recent Colombian prison riot, Italian prison riots, releasing prisoners in Iran, and it depends on what’s showing up as the most recent unless I try to search for specific countries.

Once again I am reminding you I live in Ohio.gif:

  • “Officials taking steps to reduce county jail populations in Ohio” [link] (specifically notes Cuyahoga (Cleveland), Franklin (Columbus) and Hamilton (Cincinnati) counties)
  • “Advocates Call for Better Coronavirus Response for Ohio Prisoners and Jails” [link]
  • “ACLU of Ohio establishes email for reporting coronavirus problems in prisons, jails and youth detention centers” [link] ( can be used by inmates and their families)
  • “ACLU Of Ohio Presses State To Protect Jails From Coronavirus Outbreaks” [link] (regarding oversight of county and municipal jails)
  • “Ohio prisons chief, juvenile officials: Extensive efforts have kept coronavirus at bay” [link]
  • “Governor, judges must include incarcerated Ohioans in COVID-19 response” [link]

Kite Line – March 20, 2020: COVID-19 Updates From the Inside:

“As the coronavirus pandemic continues to change life on the outside for people all over the world, the prison population stands to suffer immensely in these times. Last week, we spoke to someone in Italy, who described the riots and protests inside and outside the prisons in areas around that country. [Link to March 13th episode.] This week, we are sharing messages from people all over the United States and elsewhere through our coronavirus hotline.

We currently have a dedicated line where prisoners, their loved ones, and their supporters can call and record a message. As word leaks out from inside the prison walls, we want to share with you what’s happening to folks on the inside.

Please call (765) 343-6236 if you have information on the spread of coronavirus within a prison facility, or what the prison authorities are doing (or not doing) to address this crisis. When at all possible, we will have someone available to answer the phone directly in order to more easily facilitate prisoners being able to call in to share their stories.”

COVID-19 Resources For Incarcerated People (courtesy of Beyond Prisons Podcast’s FB):

>> Prisoner Support Guide For The Coronavirus Crisis

>> Mutual Aid Networks & Resources

>> Share Information:

Help Us to Build a National Resource for How to Support Prisoners During the Covid-19 Crisis

This resource is in the very early stages. We’re hoping that collectively we can create a resource that will live beyond this current crisis. Feel free to share this form, and to add information for prisons, ICE detention centers, youth detention centers, your region.

Eventually, we imagine creating an interactive map and an app so that people can click on their state and find the information they need. We’re not there yet, but if someone has the skills to help build this part of the project please reach out.

You can enter your email on the Share Information page, use the google form linked on the Prisoner Support Guide page, or email if you’d like to help expand this resource.

The Beyond Prisons Podcast stepped through the guide in this episode (1 hour 22 minutes) with some pointers, clarification (guide was written for those with little to no experience with supporting someone inside), and being upfront about it being a living document with updates in the coming days.

When There’s a Pandemic and Your Loved One Is in Prison (courtesy of Prison Health News):

From the third section, How to Organize Together to Fight for Our Loved Ones in Prison:

[…] Two activist groups, Survived and Punished NY and the Inside/Outside Soap Brigade, are raising money to send to incarcerated people across the U.S. for soap and other supplies. Please donate if you are able.

[…] Two activist groups have created the COVID-19 Prison Hotline, 410-449-7140, for incarcerated or detained people to call when they have coronavirus symptoms, when there’s an outbreak in their unit, or when they are being denied adequate medical care for coronavirus. The Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee and Fight Toxic Prisons, the groups that set up the hotline, announced: “We want to know where and when there is an outbreak, so that we can help mobilize support networks and media to lift up the demands of people on the inside.”

They ask people to share the phone number with people in prison. The organizers add, “We have dedicated volunteers ready to take their call at 410-449-7140. Please let us know what facilities your people are in when you tell them about the hotline, so we can make sure we fund an advance pay account for the facility. If the facility uses a phone service other than Global Tel Link, please contact us before sharing the hotline, and we’ll do our best to set up the necessary infrastructure. You can reach us at” If you are able to donate money to support the hotline, please visit

(I’m not copying over the entirety of the activist campaign links, but there’s definitely more than what’s excerpted here.)

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