Marron Director and Director of the Litmus Program, Angela Hawken, participated in a panel discussion, “Inequality in Uncertain Times: Justice in the Era of Coronavirus,” with NYU School of Law Clinical Associate Professor Deborah Archer, moderated by Senior Presidential Fellow Ellen Schall. On criminal justice responses to COVID-19, Hawken noted that many of the highest concentrations of infections have been in prisons and that many people are now receiving an early release due to high risk of infection. She described the work her team was doing on early prison release, pre-COVID-19, stressing the efforts to ensure that those releases were done well. She expressed concern for the plight of reentrants who are now releasing into terrible circumstances and the need to support them as they reenter their communities.
“In our early-release work, we made sure that the savings from the prison reduction followed those people into the community, so that housing could be provided and basic needs met.” Hawken expressed concern that evaluations of early releases related to COVID-19 might undermine efforts at criminal justice reform: “We worry that it could be counterproductive for criminal justice reform if we study these early-release cases without recognizing the circumstances that people are released to.”