COVID-19 and the American Prison Industrial Complex

"The coronavirus pandemic has fundamentally changed our lives in the past 18 months. Shortly after the virus was introduced to the United States, the number of cases in the country began skyrocketing quickly. The first confirmed case of the Coronavirus in the United States was reported on January 20th of 2020, with the first death being reported on February 29th. Because COVID-19 is transmitted via aerosolized nasal droplets, those unable to socially distance and wear masks have been the most susceptible to becoming ill from the respiratory virus. Therefore, the way in which we in the United States incarcerate our citizens, and the rate at which we incarcerate our citizens, has made America’s prisons and jails the perfect hunting grounds for this novel virus. The purpose of this thesis is to use an SEIR compartmental model to explore how the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened an already ghastly and inhumane prison industrial complex. To do this, we simulate a coronavirus outbreak in a local or county jail in the United States, and then simulate the implementation of certain management strategies the CDC has recommended prisons and jails implement. We then compare the effectiveness of these strategies at reducing the Reproductive Number of the outbreak with the effectiveness of doing so via decarceration (i.e. reducing the population size in the jail). "

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