COVID-19, Decarceration–– A NASEM Report on the Role of Clinicians, Health Systems, and Payers | Infectious Diseases | JN Learning | AMA Ed Hub [Skip to Content]
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COVID-19, Decarceration, and the Role of Clinicians, Health Systems, and PayersA Report From the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

Educational Objective
To identify the key insights or developments described in this article
1 Credit CME

The nation’s correctional facilities are deeply entangled with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.1 The criminal justice policies that drove mass incarceration have created fertile ground for the pandemic. According to the COVID Prison Project, by August 2020, 90 of the largest 100 cluster outbreaks in the United States have occurred in prisons and jails.2 Many correctional facilities are overcrowded and understaffed, and the high rates of incarceration among Black, Latino, and Native communities map closely with the demographic pattern of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infections and COVID-19–related death.

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Article Information

Corresponding Author: Emily Wang, MD, MAS, SEICHE Center for Health and Justice, Yale School of Medicine, 367 Cedar St, Harkness Bldg A, Ste 410A, New Haven, CT 06511 (emily.wang@yale.edu).

Published Online: November 16, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.22109

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.

Additional Contributions: The members of the consensus committee that authored the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report Decarcerating Correctional Facilities During COVID-19: Advancing Health, Equity, and Safety were Emily Wang (cochair, Department of Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine); Bruce Western (cochair, Department of Sociology, Columbia University); Donald Berwick (Institute for Healthcare Improvement); Sharon Dolovich (University of California, Los Angeles Law School); Deanna Hoskins (JustLeadershipUSA); Margot Kushel (Center for Vulnerable Populations, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco); Hedwig Lee (Department of Sociology, Washington University in St Louis); Stephen Rafael (University of California, Berkley); Josiah Rich (Department of Medicine, Brown University); John Wetzel (Department of Corrections, Pennsylvania); and Emily Backes (study director) and Julie Schuck (program officer, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine).

References
1.
Saloner  B , Parish  K , Ward  JA , DiLaura  G , Dolovich  S .  COVID-19 cases and deaths in federal and state prisons.   JAMA. 2020;324(6):602-603. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.12528 PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
2.
COVID Prison Project. Accessed October 20, 2020. https://covidprisonproject.com/
3.
National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine. Decarcerating Correctional Facilities During COVID-19: Advancing Health, Equity, and Safety. National Academies Press. Accessed November 10, 2020. https://www.nap.edu/catalog/25945/decarcerating-correctional-facilities-during-covid-19-advancing-health-equity-and
4.
Franco-Paredes  C , Ghandnoosh  N , Latif  H ,  et al.  Decarceration and community re-entry in the COVID-19 era.   Lancet Infect Dis. Published online September 29, 2020. doi:10.1016/S1473-3099(20)30730-1PubMedGoogle Scholar
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Blakinger  K , Neff  J . Thousands of sick federal prisoners sought release as COVID-19 spread: nearly all were denied. NBC News blog. October 7, 2020. Accessed November 10, 2020. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/thousands-sick-federal-prisoners-sought-release-covid-19-spread-nearly-n1242193
6.
Binswanger  IA , Blatchford  PJ , Mueller  SR , Stern  MF .  Mortality after prison release: opioid overdose and other causes of death, risk factors, and time trends from 1999 to 2009.   Ann Intern Med. 2013;159(9):592-600. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-159-9-201311050-00005 PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
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Kouyoumdjian  FG , McIsaac  KE , Liauw  J ,  et al.  A systematic review of randomized controlled trials of interventions to improve the health of persons during imprisonment and in the year after release.   Am J Public Health. 2015;105(4):e13-e33. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2014.302498 PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
8.
Wang  EA , Lin  HJ , Aminawung  JA ,  et al.  Propensity-matched study of enhanced primary care on contact with the criminal justice system among individuals recently released from prison to New Haven.   BMJ Open. 2019;9(5):e028097. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2018-028097 PubMedGoogle Scholar
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Zhen  Z . Jail Inmates in 2018. Bureau of Justice Statistics; 2020. Accessed November 10, 2020. https://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=6826
10.
Beck  A . Medicaid enrollment programs offer hope to formerly incarcerated individuals and savings for states. Health Affairs blog. February 20, 2020. Accessed November 10, 2020. https://www.healthaffairs.org/do/10.1377/hblog20200218.910350/full/
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