Innocent Prisoners Are Going to Die of the Coronavirus

When the machinery of justice is halted abruptly, some of the people trapped inside are not supposed to be there at all.

Barbara Bradley Hagerty
Contributing writer at The Atlantic

It’s tempting to think that what happens in prison stays in prison. But a virus doesn’t respect boundaries. It sneaks in with the guards and staff: Each day, three shifts a day, hundreds of potentially infected people walk into a prison and handle the inmates, shackle them, transport them, give them food and medicine. Once the virus gets inside prison doors, “it will go through the prison like a hot knife through butter,” said Rich, the Brown professor. Soon enough, transmission will run in the other direction. As prisoners are infected, they will infect the otherwise healthy staff, who return to their families.