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)

Follow Sarah Lustbader on Twitter: @SarahLustbader.


‘How Can I Keep My Family Safe?’: Worrying for My Clients on Rikers

House of Detention, New York City, 1972

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.