Presenter Information

Traci Schlesinger Ph.D.


A majority of the largest, single-site outbreaks of COVID-19 infections in the United States have been in prisons and jails since the beginning of the pandemic. These outbreaks threaten the lives and well-being of incarcerated people, correctional staff, and people who live in the communities to which incarcerated people return. This study employs both linear and logistic multivariate regression models to examine data from the UCLA’s COVID Prison Data Project, IPUMS CPS, the National Center for Health Statistics, and the Prison Policy Initiative to better understand the facility, county, and state-level predictors of COVID-19 infections and deaths in correctional facilities. The study finds that while some facility-level characteristics are associated with infections and deaths, county-level racial and economic characteristics matter more. In particular, facilities in counties with more Latinx and Indigenous people and lower average incomes have higher infection rates. Likewise, the odds that someone in a facility has died from COVID-19 are higher in counties with more Latinx people, lower average incomes, more college graduates, and fewer people who never married. Moreover, state-level policy changes to address this crisis have failed to do so effectively. While this study is unable to access how county-level characteristics influence these facility-level outcomes, it does demonstrate a clear connection between racialization and exposure to early death.