Naomi Sugie, Keramet Reiter and Kristin Turney

A study of US prison deaths at the height of the Covid-19 crisis in 2020 has found that mortality rates soared by 77% relative to 2019, or more than three times the increase in the general population. Its lead author, Naomi Sugie, an associate professor of criminology, law and society at the University of California, Irvine, told Courthouse News that the actual toll of Covid-19 in the prison system had been little understood. “We staffed a hotline and started this archival project hearing what people were going through in California prisons,” Sugie told the outlet. “And the conditions that people were describing were so dire and upsetting and really just violations of their health and, some may argue, human rights.”

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