Date of Award

Spring 2021

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Sociology, Anthropology & Criminal Justice; College of Arts & Sciences

First Advisor

Favian Guertin-Martín

Abstract

Due to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), the public has been advised to isolate and quarantine from one another. These social distancing practices have also been applied to institutions such as schools, universities, businesses, and even prisons. Within prisons, officials have been working with the medical community to determine the best course of action to contain the spread of the virus. The current proposed policies for prisons to contain COVID-19 are decarceration or medical isolation. However, in the medical community, there is some concern with implementing medical isolation in prisons. Under supervision of the prison officials, medical isolation could become something similar to solitary confinement. Many researchers have argued against the use of solitary confinement under any circumstances due to the severe damage it can have on an inmate’s psychological health. This paper serves to analyze the current policies of decarceration and medical isolation in prisons as well as the effectiveness of those policies in limiting the spread of COVID-19 among inmates. Additionally, this paper serves to compare medical isolation and solitary confinement and how important it is to distinguish between the two for the health and safety of all prisoners. As COVID-19 continues to spread across the country and recommendations to social distance and to isolate are consistently stressed, a proposed policy for effective control of the virus in prisons is offered, keeping both the physical and psychological health of inmates in mind.

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COVID-19 in Correctional Settings: How has the COVID-19 Pandemic Impacted Prison Policies and Conditions?

Due to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), the public has been advised to isolate and quarantine from one another. These social distancing practices have also been applied to institutions such as schools, universities, businesses, and even prisons. Within prisons, officials have been working with the medical community to determine the best course of action to contain the spread of the virus. The current proposed policies for prisons to contain COVID-19 are decarceration or medical isolation. However, in the medical community, there is some concern with implementing medical isolation in prisons. Under supervision of the prison officials, medical isolation could become something similar to solitary confinement. Many researchers have argued against the use of solitary confinement under any circumstances due to the severe damage it can have on an inmate’s psychological health. This paper serves to analyze the current policies of decarceration and medical isolation in prisons as well as the effectiveness of those policies in limiting the spread of COVID-19 among inmates. Additionally, this paper serves to compare medical isolation and solitary confinement and how important it is to distinguish between the two for the health and safety of all prisoners. As COVID-19 continues to spread across the country and recommendations to social distance and to isolate are consistently stressed, a proposed policy for effective control of the virus in prisons is offered, keeping both the physical and psychological health of inmates in mind.

 
 

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