Recommendations for Response and Future Readiness
October 2020


The coronavirus pandemic has deeply impacted every corner of American life. More than 6.9 million people have been infected and over 200,000 have died. Social and recreational gatherings of all kinds have been curtailed. Businesses have closed. Schools have suspended in-person teaching. Millions are out of work, out of school, and those who remain are often working, learning, and socializing from home.

Criminal justice agencies, organizations, their staffs, and justice-involved populations have not been spared. Almost overnight, the operations of criminal justice agencies were dramatically altered in order to preserve both safety and health. While contingency plans were in place, none contemplated a public health crisis of this speed and magnitude. The virus was quick and deadly, spreading primarily through respiratory droplets that are difficult to contain. In addition, criminal justice leaders were challenged by a lack of credible and consistent guidance, resulting in a patchwork of plans and policies nationwide.

In its first set of recommendations to the field, this Commission lays outs a priority agenda for criminal justice leaders on the front lines, offering actionable guidance on how to respond immediately and directly to the coronavirus pandemic, and to prepare for a possible second wave of infections this fall.

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