Sarah Lustbader is senior legal counsel at the Justice Collaborative and senior contributor at The Appeal. Previously, she was a senior program associate at the Vera Institute of Justice and a criminal defense attorney with the Bronx Defenders. (April 2020)
During the coronavirus pandemic, most jails and prisons have abjectly failed to protect the health of the people they are housing. I hear every day from the family members of incarcerated people who are asking themselves the same thing I am now: How can I keep my family safe? Prisoners are generally prohibited even from having hand-sanitizer; because it’s made of alcohol, it’s considered contraband. By prison administrator logic, preventing incarcerated people from drinking hand-sanitizer is more important than preventing them from dying in a pandemic.