Photo by Neury Luciano via Flickr

Reporting on the Impact of COVID-19 on Corrections, Courts and Law Enforcement

A Webinar Series for Journalists and Editors

November 18-December 9, 2020

Almost as soon as COVID-19 began carving a deadly path through the nation’s prisons and jails,  some observers saw it as a chance to rethink the nation’s system of justice.

“Necessity is the mother of invention, and the coronavirus crisis (has) led to many changes in practices,” Marc Levin of the Texas Public Policy Foundation wrote in the  National Journal in June.  He listed as examples: the proliferation of alternatives to arrest, virtual check-ins for pretrial defendants and people on community supervision, and video hearings.

“As America reopens, justice systems need not reflexively return to anachronistic practices. Instead, they must leverage this opportunity to transition to a leaner and nimbler approach.”

The nation of course is still far from “reopening.”

But ideas of Levin, and similar comments from others on all sides of the political divide, as well as experts and advocates, suggest the intellectual foundation for such a transition is already in place—and supported by growing “best practices” inside the country’s correctional systems, courts and police agencies.

Can those efforts expand?  Can we afford them? Can we afford not to?

To explore those questions, the Center on Media, Crime and Justice (CMCJ) has organized a series of webinars to give journalists a sound, evidence-based grounding to assess and report these developments and their impact on the key pressure points of the justice system.

The three webinars were held Nov. 18, Dec 2 and Dec 9.

For the final agenda, please click here.

For a speakers list, please click here.

The CMCJ appreciates the support of the Langeloth Foundation for this series.


Best Practices for Implementing Decarceration as a Strategy to Mitigate the Spread of COVID-19 in Correctional Facilities. (National Academy of Sciences report, August, 2020)

Epidemiology of COVID-19 Among Incarcerated Individuals and Staff in Massachusetts Jails and Prisons. (JAMA Network, Aug. 21,2020)

UCLA Behind Bars Data Project (launched March 2020)

Delivering Health Care to Incarcerated Persons  [POWERPOINT] John May, et al, Centurion Services.

Clash of a Pandemic and an Epidemic  [POWERPOINT]  Dan Mistak, Community Oriented Correctional Health Services, November, 2018

Managing COVID-19 Behind Bars, Su Ming Yeh, Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project

American Law Enforcement Responses to COVID-19,  Journal of Criminal Law Online (forthcoming)

COVID-19: Inside Corrections, Andy Potter, One Voice United

Heroes in a Swamp Full of Villains (Prisoner’s Blog)

One Voice United   (Video)

Jail Corrections Officers and PTSD,  Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (Study by St. Louis University), 2019

PTSD ‘At War Zone Level’ Among Correctional Staff, National Institute of Corrections  2018.

The IACP-GMU National Surveys on the Impacts of COVID-19 on Law Enforcement, Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy, George Mason University, 2020

Policing a Pandemic, Jennifer Zeunik, National Police Foundation (PowerPoint presentation 2020)


National Commission on Correctional Health Care

Journal of Correctional Health Care (free access to journalists) 

Solutions Journalism: Telling the Whole Story of COVID in Jails and Prisons (PowerPoint, Dec. 2020)


Session 1 – Correctional Health Care During Covid-19: Costs, Challenges and Change

Session 2 – How Correctional Physicians Manage the Present Pandemic & Glean Lessons for the Future

Session 3 – Is COVID-19 Reshaping Correctional Health Policy & Practice?

Session 4  (12-2)  Incarcerating in a Pandemic
Session 5 (12-2) Weighing Public Safety & Public Health
Session 6  (12-2) Decarcerating During Covid-19
Session 7  (12-2) A Conversation: Released Amid Covid-19
Session 8  (12-9)  Keynote: Andy Potter 

Session 9  (12-9)  Cops and COVID

Session 10  (12-9) Journalists’ Roundtable: Coverage Challenges in 2021


Will America’s Correctional Systems Get Early Access to COVID Vaccine?

COVID-19 Has Reshaped the Justice System; But Will It Last?

COVID-19 Prison Staff Shortages Prompt Closures Across the U.S.

Houston Chief: Delay in COVID Relief Imperils Police Reform

Four Steps to Halting COVID-19 Behind Bars: Report

Law Enforcement Played ‘Minimal Role’ in COVID-19 Enforcement: Study



EDDIE BURKHALTER, The Alabama Political Reporter

Alabama Prisons Still ‘Deadly’, Years After Warnings


Blame for coronavirus spread in Prisons Belongs to Guards Who Don’t Wear Masks, CT Mirror, Feb. 12, 2o21

One of Joe Biden’s First Steps Should Be to Fix Justice System, NBC News ‘Think’ Op Ed, Jan. 21, 2021

Making Mask Invites Punishment in Prison, Holland Sentinel, Dec. 11, 2020

BRITTANY HAILER, Pittsburgh Current

Quarantined in Unit 7D: ‘They’re Leaving Inmates There to Die’

COVID-19 at Allegheny County Jail Brings 75 New Cases in Just 10 Days: What does this Say About County’s Testing Practices?  Pittsburgh Current, Feb 23, 2021

What Is It Like to Live on COVID-19 Isolation Unit?   Pittsburgh Current, Feb. 23,2021

Special Report: Prison Called ‘Delusional’ Over Fears of Catching COVID-19,  Pittsburgh Current, Feb. 23, 2021