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Impact of COVID-19 on the Local Jail Population, January-June 2020

NCJ Number
255888
Date Published
March 2021
Author(s)
Todd D. Minton, BJS Statisticians; Zhen Zeng, Ph.D., BJS Statisticians; Laura M. Maruschak, BJS Statisticians
Publication Type
Publication
Annotation
This report describes the impact of COVID-19 on the local jail population during the 6-month period from January to June 2020, including the impact on the release of jail inmates, admissions to jails, jail capacity, and incarceration rates.
Abstract

This report describes the impact of COVID-19 on the local jail population during the 6-month period from January to June 2020, including the impact on the release of jail inmates, admissions to jails, jail capacity, and incarceration rates. It includes data on COVID-19 tests and data on confirmed and suspected deaths due to COVID-19 among jail inmates and staff.

Highlights
  • Local jails in the United States experienced a large decline (down 185,400 inmates) in their inmate populations from June 30, 2019 to June 30, 2020, which can be attributed mainly to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The impact of COVID-19 on local jails began in March 2020, with a drop of 18% in the inmate population between the end of February and the end of March, followed by an 11% drop by the end of April.
  • From March to June 2020, about 208,500 inmates received expedited release in response to COVID-19.
  • During the pandemic, jail facilities became less crowded, as indicated by the decrease in occupied bed space from 81% at midyear 2019 to 60% at midyear 2020.
Date Created: February 19, 2021