Newswise — As many U.S. prisons and jails begin early-release initiatives to save the lives of corrections workers and prisoners caught in the path of COVID-19, a new report from NYU’s Marron Institute of Urban Management surfaces the unprecedented practical hurdles facing reentrants and recommends practices for assisting new releasees. Housing shortages, record unemployment, and inadequate community-based infrastructure such as mental health/drug treatment face newly freed prisoners in this pandemic, according to “Lessons from the Field to Inform Responses to COVID-19 in Corrections,” while prison mechanisms for preparing and supervising releasees need review and retooling.
The 11-page report distills learnings from five COVID-19 “protocol-sharing” roundtables held by Marron with more than 100 criminal justice system practitioners from 20 states, and a close look at the NYU Marron team’s early-release program before the outbreak in Illinois. The report calls for transparent processes for selecting who will be let out and additional support for reentrants around the time of release. “
Scattershot approaches to releasing prisoners, without substantial accompanying supports, will diminish prospects for succeeding in the community and may undermine future criminal justice reform efforts,” the authors write.
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