Prisons across the United States and internationally are putting into place early release programs for inmates due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Prison officials, government officials, and health department officials believe that early release answers the need to reduce prison overcrowding spurring immense spread of the COVID-19 virus. The spread of COVID-19 within jails and prisons are on the increase due to overcrowding. Well-behaved inmates with chronic health issues, and those who have complex medical diagnosis places them at a higher risk for contracting COVID-19 with complications including death.
These high-risk inmates are seeing their sentences reduced so early discharge can take place. Instituting an early release program helps to decrease overcrowding, thus decreasing the spread of COVID-19 because social distending is better utilized with less inmates. There are a few states and foreign countries that are initiating early release programs. However, there are not enough at this time. Many prisons are taking a second look at long-term inmates and what would be more beneficial to them, a transfer, or an early discharge. There are other issues factoring into thousands of early release inmates at high risk for contracting COVID-19 in prisons and jails, such as,
Prisons are understaffed due to employees becoming ill with the COVID-19 Virus.
Decrease or elimination of programs
Late meals due to being understaffed
Decrease in overall physical and mental health
Impossible social distending
Early release programs affect the following.
Releases from jails
Releases from prisons
Reduced jail admissions
Reduced paroles and probation
Reduced prison check-ins
Reduced or elimination of medical co-pays
Elimination or decrease in necessary prison reforms
Decreased time outside
Elimination of medical co-pays
Reducing visitors for inmates but increasing phone call and video contact while eliminating the fees attached
Reduced face to face and unnecessary parole check-ins, and probation visits to cut the risks of contracting COVID-19.
Suspension of probation and parole fees