Marshall Project Originals
My Wild and Winding Path to a College Degree Behind Bars
Rahsaan “New York” Thomas was proud to finally earn his associate’s degree in San Quentin State Prison. But repeated COVID-19 lockdowns turned his graduation ceremony into a two-year ordeal.
What Can FBI Data Say About Crime in 2021? It’s Too Unreliable to Tell
The transition to a new data system creates huge gaps in national crime stats sure to be exploited by politicians in this election year.
Omicron Has Arrived. Many Prisons and Jails Are Not Ready.
Experts fear “another potential tinderbox scenario” akin to the early days of the pandemic.
Essential but Excluded
Immigrants put seafood on America’s tables. But many have been shut out of pandemic aid — and so have their U.S. citizen children.
As Corrections Officers Quit in Droves, Prisons Get Even More Dangerous
Fewer guards lead to more lockdowns, rising tensions and scant access to healthcare.
Police Say Demoralized Officers Are Quitting In Droves. Labor Data Says No.
While other industries were devastated by the pandemic last year, police departments felt a much smaller impact.
My Uncle Died the Day He Was Released From Jail. I’m Still Trying to Understand Why.
“Sudden cardiac death,” is the cause listed on my uncle Bryan’s death certificate. But it didn’t feel sudden at all — not when you factor in his underlying mental and physical health problems, years of poor prison medical care and the fact that he caught COVID-19 in his Arizona jail.
‘They Should Have Been Watching’: Suicides Rise in Texas Prisons During Pandemic
Prison suicides have been rising for years. Experts fear the pandemic has made it worse.
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.
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.
Murders Rose Last Year. Black and Hispanic Neighborhoods Were Hit Hardest.
A COVID-strained social safety net. Entrenched distrust between cops and communities of color. "2020 was a tinderbox."
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.
“Hell No”: Correctional Officers Are Declining The Coronavirus Vaccine En Masse
Public health experts worry that high refusal rates could undermine efforts to control the pandemic inside and outside of prisons.
Many Juvenile Jails Are Now Almost Entirely Filled With Young People of Color
Thousands of kids were freed from juvenile detention during the pandemic. They were more likely to be White, data shows.
How I Keep Hope Alive While Serving 150 Years in Prison
In those moments when I feel like a puppet tied up in strings, I draw on my Muslim faith to stay hopeful.
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.
We Asked People Behind Bars How They Feel About Getting Vaccinated
A Marshall Project survey of the incarcerated showed widespread interest in the coronavirus vaccine as well as pervasive distrust of the prison medical system.
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.
Zoom Funerals, Outdoor Classes: Jails and Prisons Evolve Amid the Pandemic
But will high-tech programs replace “the human touch” when the virus ebbs?
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.
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.
A Question of Violence
Rahsaan “New York” Thomas is barred from COVID-related release from San Quentin because his 20-year-old crime was violent. GoFundMe cancelled his legal defense campaign for the same reason. Here’s what it’s like to live with the scarlet letter V.
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.
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.
Lax Masking, Short Quarantines, Ignored Symptoms: Inside a Prison Coronavirus Outbreak in ‘Disbeliever Country.’
The latest COVID-19 surge is happening behind bars, too. Here’s three accounts from an upstate New York prison hit by the pandemic.
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.
Is Violent Crime Rising In Cities Like Trump Says? Well, It’s Complicated.
Trump speaks of "anarchy and mayhem" in cities. Here's what the data really 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.
How Losing RBG Could Shape Criminal Justice For Years to Come
Juvenile lifers, victims of police misconduct and immigrants convicted of minor crimes are among those with a lot at stake before the changing court.
Byron Miller’s Race Against Time
Months ago, the attorney general ordered pandemic prison releases. After 24 years behind bars, Miller is one of many still waiting for a ticket home.
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.
The New Normal
The fifth edition of The Marshall Project’s print publication explores a world transformed by COVID-19 and the George Floyd protests.
‘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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.”
“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.”
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.”
I’ve Served Time in Prison. Sheltering in Place is Terrifying.
Struggling with “that caged animal feeling” during the coronavirus pandemic.
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 Restrictions Stoke Tensions in Lock-ups Across U.S.
As COVID-19 fear grows among prisoners and guards, concerns rise about possible unrest.
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.
“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.