Institutional Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic in American Prisons

Meghan A. Novisky, Chelsey S. Narvey, Daniel C. Semenza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


The COVID-19 pandemic infiltrated the United States in early 2020, with correctional facilities becoming hot spots for the novel coronavirus shortly thereafter. Using data gathered from Departments of Corrections’ official websites, we provide a summary of state and federal prison system responses to COVID-19 as of June 2020. We highlight strengths and deficiencies in system responses as well as pertinent variations across jurisdictions. We conclude with a call for scholars and grant funders to prioritize incarceration-based data collection efforts on COVID-19 so the short and long-term consequences of the pandemic, and systemic responses to it, can be more fully assessed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1244-1261
Number of pages18
JournalVictims and Offenders
Issue number7-8
StatePublished - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Law


  • Covid-19
  • Prison experience
  • alternatives to incarceration
  • early release mechanisms
  • pandemic
  • prison reform
  • prisons
  • public safety


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