Marshall Project Originals
How Prisons in Each State Are Restricting Visits Due to Coronavirus
As COVID-19 spread earlier this year, prison facilities across the country suspended visits from family and lawyers. Several months into the pandemic, some states are easing those restrictions. We’re rounding up the changes as they occur.
Prisons Have a Health Care Issue — And It Starts at the Top, Critics Say
When coronavirus hit federal prisons, the top officials had no health care experience.
A Half-Million People Got COVID-19 in Prison. Are Officials Ready for the Next Pandemic?
People who live and work in prisons worry they remain vulnerable, even as life behind bars returns to business as usual.
Lost Opportunity, Lost Lives
During the pandemic, prison officials could have prevented sickness and death by releasing those who were most vulnerable to coronavirus and least likely to reoffend — older incarcerated people.
A State-By-State Look at 15 Months of Coronavirus in Prisons
The Marshall Project and The Associated Press collected data on COVID-19 infections in state and federal prisons every week. See how the virus affected correctional facilities near you.
31,000 Prisoners Sought Compassionate Release During COVID-19. The Bureau of Prisons Approved 36.
As the pandemic worsened inside federal prisons, officials granted fewer releases.
Jail Populations Creep Back Up After COVID-19
Judges, prosecutors and sheriffs in many states sent people home instead of to jail last year, but new data suggests the change is not lasting.
COVID-19 and Vaccine Mistrust Behind Bars
The second episode of The Marshall Project’s new video series, designed for audiences inside and outside of prison, reflects on how the COVID-19 vaccine has been received in lockups.
How We Survived COVID-19 In Prison
At the start of the pandemic, we asked four incarcerated people to chronicle daily life with the coronavirus. Here, they reveal what they witnessed and how they coped with the chaos, fear, isolation and deaths.
These Parents Had to Bond With Their Babies Over Zoom — or Lose Them Forever
During the pandemic, video chats replaced in-person visits between parents and their children placed in foster care. The effects could linger for years.
As States Expand Vaccine Eligibility, Many People in Prison Still Wait for Shots
Despite CDC advice to vaccinate prisoners quickly, two-thirds of states lag behind the general population.
As States Expand Vaccine Eligibility, Many People in Prison Still Wait for Shots
Despite CDC advice to vaccinate prisoners quickly, two-thirds of states lag behind the general population.
You Blocked My Freedom and My Liberty, But Don’t Block My News
Getting News Inside into prisons and jails isn’t easy during the COVID-19 pandemic, but we remain committed to putting lifesaving information in your hands.
What People in Prison Need to Know About the COVID-19 Vaccine
Over 100 incarcerated people around the country told us their questions about the vaccine. Here’s information about whether it’s safe, when it could be available and more.
When The Prison Banned Board Games, We Played Chess In Our Minds
“At the heart of our mental chess game lies a profound lesson: The difference between being content or distraught is a matter of perspective.”
When a Shower Counts as a Privilege, You Have to Get Creative
Doing time during a pandemic can mean fighting for your turn to wash your body or call your family. Inside one man’s battle with an inaudible loudspeaker, weary guards and a dysfunctional process.
Prisons Are Releasing People Without COVID-19 Tests Or Quarantines
People getting out of prison are bringing the virus outside because lockups aren’t taking basic precautions. Overtaxed halfway houses and other reentry programs are left to pick up the slack.
Zoom Funerals, Outdoor Classes: Jails and Prisons Evolve Amid the Pandemic
But will high-tech programs replace “the human touch” when the virus ebbs?
Congress Ends Penalty That Kept A Million Americans From Getting COVID Relief Funds
Citizens who filed taxes with an undocumented immigrant can now receive stimulus payments.
The National Guard Is Using Force on Prisoners After Little Training
Ohio guard members patrolling inside prisons trained for a fraction of the 5 weeks required of correction officers.
Moving People—and Coronavirus—From Prison to Prison
As COVID-19 infections soar, prisoners and corrections officers worry that transferring people between facilities is causing outbreaks.
1 in 5 Prisoners in the U.S. Has Had COVID-19
Even as the first Americans begin to receive vaccines, the spread of coronavirus behind bars shows no sign of slowing.
Why Millions of Americans Still Can't Get Coronavirus Relief Funds
Filing taxes with an undocumented immigrant means the whole family loses out on payment.
Prisoners Are Setting Fires To Protest Pandemic Conditions
But many Texas prisons don’t have working fire alarms.
Coronavirus Has Sparked Another Epidemic in My Prison: Anti-Asian Racism
The racial slurs, dumb comments and news reports of hate violence have me on edge.
Should Prisoners Get Covid-19 Vaccines Early?
Public health experts urge making them a priority—but some push back.
Why My First Thanksgiving in Prison Was The Best One I’d Had In Forever
Between being sober, getting a visit and having a surprise feast with the mean girls in my unit, I still cherish that day.
Where Coronavirus Is Surging—And Electronic Surveillance, Too
In Chicago and elsewhere, the number of people wearing an ankle monitor has jumped in recent months due to the pandemic.
Should Prisoners Have to Pay For Medical Care During a Pandemic?
Some states stop charging copays to encourage COVID-19 care.
Prisoners Won The Right To Stimulus Checks. Some Prisons Are Standing In The Way.
A federal judge ruled prisoners can get the $1,200 checks many Americans received in the spring. Some prison systems are putting up roadblocks, lawyers and prisoners say.
Thousands of Sick Federal Prisoners Sought Compassionate Release. 98 Percent Were Denied.
Wardens blocked bids for freedom as COVID-19 spread behind bars, data shows.
I Hate My Prison Dorm So Much, I Enjoyed COVID-19 Quarantine in the Box
After two decades in a single-person cell, I moved to an open dorm with 30 other men. Between the smells, stress and lack of privacy, I was happy to spend time in solitary confinement.
COVID-19’s Toll on People of Color Is Worse Than We Knew
New data shows deaths from all causes—COVID and otherwise—have gone up 9 percent among White Americans, but more than 30 percent in communities of color.
During the Pandemic, a Prison Funeral for Our Angel
Despite coronavirus-related lockdown and a skittish staff, prisoners at California Women’s Facility pulled off a full-fledged memorial service for a beloved long-termer.
‘Con Air’ Is Spreading COVID-19 All Over the Federal Prison System
U.S. Marshals are transporting prisoners without testing them for coronavirus
“Nowhere Else to Go”
A Marshall Project / FRONTLINE film that follows an undocumented family’s struggle to survive homelessness, immigrant detention and a rapidly spreading virus.
Your Zoom Interrogation Is About To Start
COVID-19 is changing how police question suspects and witnesses—for the better, some argue.
How Long Can You Hide a Dead Body in a Prison Cell?
Mental-health problems, short staffing plague a Texas lockup in COVID lockdown.
A Year After Prison, He Has a Job, a Fiancée—And a Week Left of Freedom
Richard Midkiff spent 23 years behind bars. A dispute over his decades-old plea deal could send him back for 15 more.
Freed From Prison, Dead from COVID-19, Not Even Counted
Officials’ missteps at Butner made it the deadliest federal lockup.
How ICE Exported the Coronavirus
An investigation reveals how Immigration and Customs Enforcement became a domestic and global spreader of COVID-19.
Their Unlikely Alliance Began at Whataburger. Can They Reform a Texas Jail?
When COVID-19 threatened the jail in Tyler, Texas, an activist pressured her sheriff to make change.
These Political Candidates Are Embracing Their Criminal Records
A group of 2020 hopefuls say their first-hand experience with the justice system makes them best suited to fix it.
“I Begged Them To Let Me Die”: How Federal Prisons Became Coronavirus Death Traps.
The Bureau of Prisons was unprepared and slow to respond. Then officials took steps that helped spread the virus.
Is Child Abuse Really Rising During The Pandemic?
Amid speculation of a spike in abuse, advocates worry that families of color will be policed even more.
Shining a Light on Life Behind Bars
“The Writing on the Wall” art installation lets incarcerated people speak for themselves.
Have COVID-19? Cops May Have Your Neighborhood on a “Heat Map”
Critics call high-tech maps overreach, but police say they keep officers safe.
Jails Are Coronavirus Hotbeds. How Many People Should Be Released To Slow The Spread?
As officials cut jail populations, researchers and advocates explore what more can be done.
“Juvenile Lifers” Were Meant to Get a Second Chance. COVID-19 Could Get Them First.
The Supreme Court gave teens sentenced to life in prison a shot at freedom. Many are still waiting.
Police Arrested Fewer People During Coronavirus Shutdowns—Even Fewer Were White
Racial disparities grew in five cities as arrests fell, according to our new data analysis.
What COVID-19 Prison Outbreaks Could Teach Us About Herd Immunity
Prisons turn out to be a key place to study how coronavirus spreads and how immunity to it works.
First Came The Pandemic, Then Came the Raw Sewage
As if coronavirus wasn’t bad enough, plumbing problems are making life in some Texas prisons even more miserable.
In Prison, Even Social Distancing Rules Get Weaponized
“After close to 22 years inside, I thought I had seen everything when it comes to the Department of Corrections using impossible-to-follow rules to punish prisoners. I was wrong.”
Is COVID-19 Falling Harder on Black Prisoners? Officials Won’t Tell Us.
Some prison systems aren’t collecting race data. Others won’t disclose it. Experts say these are big mistakes.
How To Hide a COVID-19 Hotspot? Pretend Prisoners Don’t Exist
A county trying to reopen its economy wrestles with a virus outbreak in prison.
No Photo ID, No Services: Coronavirus Poses Steep Hurdles After Prison
For many people leaving prison during the pandemic, closed DMVs mean closed doors.
Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort Got to Leave Federal Prison Due to COVID-19. They’re The Exception.
Just a small fraction of federal prisoners have been sent home. Many others lack legal help and connections to make their case.
The Rise of the Anti-Lockdown Sheriffs
Opposition to stay-at-home orders is the latest example of a history of powerful sheriffs, which stretches back to the end of slavery and the settling of the frontier.
Photos Show No Social Distancing In Federal Halfway House
A new lawsuit says crowded meals and dorms increase coronavirus risk.
For Mentally Ill Defendants, Coronavirus Means Few Safe Options
While their mental health deteriorates, some are stuck in jail as hospitals are decreasing admissions to prevent the spread of infections.
I Survived Prison During The AIDS Epidemic. Here’s What It Taught Me About Coronavirus
COVID-19 isn’t an automatic death sentence, but the fear, vilification and isolation are the same.
What Women Dying In Prison From COVID-19 Tell Us About Female Incarceration
Fatal victims illuminate women’s unique problems in prison, and the all-too-common ways they get there in the first place.
Jails Turn to UVC Robots To Fight Coronavirus
Some sheriffs are buying ultraviolet light machines traditionally used by hospitals.
Solitary, Brawls, No Teachers: Coronavirus Makes Juvenile Jails Look Like Adult Prisons
Youth lockups are supposed to rehabilitate kids, not punish them. The pandemic is making that harder than ever.
Why Did It Take the Feds Weeks to Report COVID-19 Cases In Privately Run Prisons?
The Bureau of Prisons reports 110 confirmed cases among 17,000 prisoners—and that may be an undercount.
The Cruel Irony of Social Distancing When You’re Stuck in Solitary
Our running joke: ‘You may go crazy in here, but at least you won’t get corona.’
A Dangerous Limbo: Probation and Parole in the Time of COVID-19
Closed courts, faulty technology and delays in post-release programs are among a range of barriers keeping a population prime for release behind bars.
COVID-19: A Survival Guide for Incarcerated People
Tips on how to protect yourself from the virus within the limits of prison or jail.
Can College Programs in Prison Survive COVID-19?
Many educators found workarounds now that they can no longer enter the prisons. But they fear the coronavirus could undermine a critical component: teaching in person.
Prisons Are Coronavirus Hotspots. This Town’s Got Five of Them.
“I have a bad feeling about this,” says the former mayor of Palestine, Texas.
“We All Have An Expiration Date”: The Death of a Prison Writer
Among the many incarcerated people who have died from COVID-19 was Marshall Project contributor Timothy Bazrowx, one of Texas' best chroniclers of prison life.
Can’t Make Bail, Sit in Jail Even Longer Thanks to Coronavirus
With grand juries suspended, people who get arrested lose a route out.
Texas Prison Officers: We Asked For Face Masks In 2017. COVID-19 Got Here First.
A state spokesman says the system has more than 100,000 N95 masks, but it’s unclear how many have been given to officers or prisoners.
Few Federal Prisoners Released Under COVID-19 Emergency Policies
A federal judge called the Bureau of Prisons release process “Kafkaesque.”
These Prisons Are Doing Mass Testing For COVID-19—And Finding Mass Infections
Health experts say not testing staff could be a blind spot.
Tracking the Spread of Coronavirus in Prisons
A new Marshall Project effort has collected data on the prevalence of COVID-19 among prisoners and prison staff. Here's what we know after one month of reporting.
During the COVID-19 Crisis, Don’t Shoot the Messenger
When you lead the Inmate Liaison Committee in a pandemic, you have to deliver bad news with finesse.
The 470,000 Potential Voters Most Likely To Be Disenfranchised Next Election
Voting rights for people in jail is becoming another casualty of COVID-19.
Is Domestic Violence Rising During the Coronavirus Shutdown? Here’s What the Data Shows.
Reports of domestic abuse in three cities have dropped. But police and experts say that may be a problem.
“How Do I Defend People Now?”
Public defenders rely on in-person, confidential meetings with clients. They say COVID-19 makes their jobs nearly impossible.
Court Is Closed Due to Coronavirus. But You Still Owe Those Fines and Fees.
As states and cities face budget shortfalls amid the COVID-19 crisis, many courts seek payments largely owed by the poor.
Coronavirus is Keeping Prison Families From Saying Their Last Goodbyes
Some relatives can’t claim bodies or hold funerals amid COVID-19 restrictions.
Infected, Incarcerated—and Coming to an ICU Near You?
Without ventilators, prisons lean on local hospitals to care for coronavirus victims.
What Happens When More Than 300,000 Prisoners Are Locked Down?
The United States is about to find out as officials struggle to contain the coronavirus.
The Judge Will See You On Zoom, But The Public Is Mostly Left Out
Volunteers who monitor courts across the country say they are getting little access to online-only proceedings.
Migrant Children Still Face Speedy Deportation Hearings in COVID-19 Hotspots
Trump administration presses on with court proceedings, rebuffing pleas from attorneys and advocates.
I Was a Prison Hospice Aide. Then Came Coronavirus.
“I know firsthand how the looming threat of COVID-19 is being absorbed by all of us behind the walls.”
Federal Prison Factories Kept Running as Coronavirus Spread
Prisoners made furniture and license plates during the pandemic, according to workers and families. Some plants are now making face masks.
“I Do Not Want to Die Somewhere Like This.”
Medically vulnerable immigrants in ICE detention sue for release before coronavirus arrives.
I Was at Rikers While Coronavirus Spread. Getting Out Was Just as Surreal.
“My family is my family. I am used to our little quirks. But I am still getting used to what's going on outside.”
Trump Administration Tells Some Business Owners “Do Not Apply” for Coronavirus Loans
SBA says people with criminal records aren't eligible for some emergency loans, even though experts say the law doesn't exclude them.
I’ve Served Time in Prison. Sheltering in Place is Terrifying.
Struggling with “that caged animal feeling” during the coronavirus pandemic.
How 27 Years in Prison Prepared Me for Coronavirus
“If there’s one thing people who spent a long time in prison have acquired, it’s the ability to adapt.”
A New Tactic To Fight Coronavirus: Send The Homeless From Jails To Hotels
California and New York City are booking hotels so homeless people released from jail don’t accelerate the pandemic.
Coronavirus Ended His Shot at a Second Chance
The case of Patrick Jones, the first federal prisoner to die from COVID-19, epitomizes national debates about criminal justice reform.
Federal Prisons Agency “Put Staff in Harm’s Way” of Coronavirus
Orders at Oakdale in Louisiana help explain COVID-19 spread.
Probation and Parole Officers Are Rethinking Their Rules As Coronavirus Spreads
Social distancing is pressing officials across the country to skip traditional methods such as jailing people for “technical violations” like missing check-ins.
Coronavirus Restrictions Stoke Tensions in Lock-ups Across U.S.
As COVID-19 fear grows among prisoners and guards, concerns rise about possible unrest.
Freed From Prison After 26 Years—Into a Coronavirus Hotspot
During the COVID-19 crisis, people coming home after decades behind bars find loved ones in quarantine, dire job prospects and overwhelmed social services agencies.
As a Mom Working In a Prison, I Worry About Bringing Coronavirus Home
“I tell my husband to keep my son in another room, while I put my uniform in a trash bag and take a long shower.”
Why Jails Are So Important in the Fight Against Coronavirus
With about 200,000 people flowing into and out of jails every week, there are great risks not only for the detained, but also for jail workers and surrounding communities.
How Is The Justice System Responding to the Coronavirus? It Depends On Where You Live.
While some cities free people from jail and stop arrests, others are much more business as usual.
How Bill Barr’s COVID-19 Prisoner Release Plan Could Favor White People
Only 7 percent of black men would be deemed low-risk enough to get out using the federal prison system’s risk assessment tool, according to an analysis.
As Coronavirus Surges, Crime Declines in Some Cities
Early data suggests criminal incidents are down in several cities under stay-at-home orders.
Photos Show Some Prison Beds Are Only Three Feet Apart
Despite coronavirus, crowding continues inside California’s system.
“They Don’t Care:” Families Of The Incarcerated Fear The Worst As Coronavirus Spreads
With in-person visits suspended nationwide, people with loved ones behind bars say they’re being left in the dark.
No, Your Coronavirus Quarantine Is Not Just Like Being in Prison
“I'd give anything to trade places with you right now.”
Coronavirus Leaves Foster Children With Nowhere to Go
New placements, family visits and child-abuse investigations falter across the country.
“Everybody’s Scared”: Panic At Immigrant Detention Center After Positive Coronavirus Test
Detainees say officials give them little information and are not doing enough to reduce their risk.
How Coronavirus is Disrupting the Death Penalty
Colorado abolished capital punishment. But COVID-19 is pausing it everywhere else.
“I Want to See my Child.” Juvenile Lockups Cut Visits Over COVID-19 Fears
Families fret about isolated youth behind bars.
Coronavirus Transforming Jails Across the Country
Some sheriffs, prosecutors and defenders scramble to move people from local jails, potential petri dishes for infection.
First ICE Employee Tests Positive for Coronavirus
Case confirmed at Elizabeth, N.J., facility currently holding almost 200 detainees.
North Carolina Prisoners Still Working in Chicken Plants, Despite Coronavirus Fears
“Kinda defeats the ban on visitation, which was to protect inmates and mainly staff,” critic says.
This Chart Shows Why The Prison Population Is So Vulnerable to COVID-19
Those 55 and older are a growing share of the people in state prisons. They’re also the most at risk as coronavirus spreads.
D.C. Cops Balance Bravado and Caution During COVID-19 Pandemic
Police across the country “have to be realistic about what we can and can’t do.”
What Coronavirus Quarantine Looks Like in Prison
“I cannot help but linger on the faces of the elderly prisoners and think about how they are unlikely to survive this.”