Authorities around the country are trying to figure out what they can do to curb the public’s risk of getting coronavirus. One of the most important actions they can take is to focus on criminal justice reform, because many criminal justice policies are an unfolding public health disaster.
You can’t practice social distancing in prison. Progressive reforms - which Black activists have been demanding for years - are now even more necessary to protect public health, a point being made by prosecutors who are moving quickly to implement these changes.
Like San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin has suggested, COVID-19 will not end without reform. That means releases, bail reform, fewer arrests, an end to mass incarceration, and more. Because people going in and out of prisons during a pandemic will make things worse.
Caging Black people is not making us safer, and in situations like the one we’re in, it’s extremely dangerous. If prisons and jails are incubators for COVID-19 and people are constantly going in and out, we need to reduce incarceration rates - something that’s already long overdue.