Covid-19 and Mass Incarceration

The year of 2020 brought absolute and extreme chaos and death in this country and abroad. Covid-19 caused mass devastation across the globe. To make matters worse, there was no authority who could speak on the matter with more than practical knowledge. As we all watched thousands and then millions of people lose their lives, I could not help but think about those who were incarcerated and what few options they had. There are many barriers to quality healthcare outside of a prison setting, imagine how access to healthcare can often be a obstructed (Oss, 2020). For incarcerated persons, many of the normal and routine practices we enjoy as "free " citizens is simply not afforded to people who are behind bars. Covid-19 was particularly concerning for correctional facilities across the country. Here in Georgia, the prison system had at least 3,626 diagnosed cases resulting in 92 deaths (Marshall, 2020). Healthcare is a constitutional right for incarcerated people. In Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97 (1976) the Court ruled that the Eighth Amendment, bars “deliberate indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners,” which would constitute the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain. Further, In Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520 (1979) stated that under the Fourteenth Amendment there exists an obligation to provide medical care to pre-trial detainees, failure to do so constitutes a punishment to the detainee who has not yet been convicted of any crime. The fact there is case law which supports the need for adequate healthcare for prisoners illustrates that prisoners have had to fight for their constitutional right to receive healthcare while in prison, and that is disappointing. Addressing healthcare needs of incarcerated individuals is essential not only to the prisoner's health, but should exclusively allow for preventative education for the patient as well. Preventative healthcare serves to decrease the costs of healthcare to the taxpayer and places the control of the prisoner's healthcare back into their hands by providing education to the prisoner so that they are better able to understand how to properly care for their condition (Bali, 2017). Let's hope that after this horrific experience, correctional healthcare providers are educating their patients and equipping them with the power they need to address their healthcare needs. Here, at Correct Consultants our nurses are able to educate and train your patients how to properly care for themselves and their condition. Contact us for a complimentary session.


American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) (2020, April 24). Covid-19 in Jails and Prison.

Bali, Sabenna, The Economic Advantage of Preventative Health Care in Prisons, 57 Santa Clara L. Rev. 453 (2017). Available at:

Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520 (1979).

Estelle v. Gamble ,429 U.S. 97 (1976).

The Marshall Project (2021, March 12) A State-by-State Look at Coronavirus in Prisons accessed on March 17, 2021.

Oss Law Enforcement Advisers. An Inmates Access to Healthcare Is Mandatory By law. (2020). retrieved March 17, 2021.