University of Miami Law Review


In this essay, the author argues that federal, state and local government response to the COVID-19 epidemic in prisons and jails was largely incompetent, inhumane, and contrary to sound public health policy, resulting in preventable death and suffering for both incarcerated people and corrections staff. However, the lessons learned from these failures provide a roadmap for policy priorities and legal reform in our ongoing need to decarcerate and end the era of mass incarceration, including: (1) rolling back extreme sentences, recalibrating sentences generally and providing for “second look” mechanisms to those currently serving sentences beyond 10 years; (2) ensuring that decarceration efforts center racial justice as a goal both prospectively and retrospectively; and (3) promoting voting rights for all incarcerated people and those living in the community with a felony conviction.