Inside prison

COVID-19 prison releases exposed inequities

COVID-19 prison releases exposed inequities in the US incarceration system, Northeastern researchers say

In the decade leading up to 2020, racial inequity in U.S. incarceration was trending down––until the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

In the early days of the pandemic, COVID-19 was hitting prison populations hard, prompting federal and state leaders to release tens of thousands of prisoners. But new data from a team of researchers helmed by experts from Northeastern University, Yale University and the Santa Fe Institute reveals that the mass release didn’t apply equally to people of color. The data, collected and released for the first time, reveals a suite of longstanding, persistent inequities in the criminal legal system and how the pandemic was just the spark that lit the fuse.

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