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COVID Aid Should Expand To Those Under Community Supervision

As the COVID-19 infection rate falls both in the community and within correctional institutions, research by Carmen Gutierrez and Evelyn Patterson titled “Risk and implications of COVID‐19 among the community supervised population” shows the impact that COVID-19 had on community supervised populations and the lack of medical care available and received by them.

The authors advocate for policies that aid in the reduction of serious illnesses not only associated with COVID-19 but also for chronic conditions.

During COVID-19, U.S. correctional institutions experienced an influx in outbreaks. Many of these outbreaks derived from a lack of social distancing, overcrowding, poor air quality and shortage of

appropriate protective necessities.

Correctional populations experienced abnormally high rates of complications from COVID-19. Concerns from public health officials and advocacy spread to the process of de-incarceration of previously incarcerated individuals into the community, where the effects of COVID-19 were greatly exacerbated.

In Criminology & Public Policy, Gutierrez and Patterson argued that the effects of COVID-19 on community supervised populations differ from those who are not under correctional supervision in the community and raised a social concern about the health outcomes of such populations.

Using data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) from 2015-2019, Gutierrez and Patterson examined the ways in which vulnerability and access to medical care may be comparatively different for men under community supervision than those without a criminal legal connection.

Dilemmas surrounding the differences in health outcomes of men under community supervision

from those who are not under supervision are largely supportive. Men under community supervision were more likely to have underlying health conditions, more likely to need extra precautions, and were less likely to have medical coverage than men who had no criminal legal attachment.

It is important to note that extra precautions include individuals who have a disability, live in rural areas and/or have upper respiratory conditions such as asthma. With an increase in underlying conditions, extra precautions and lack of medical care, men under community supervision were at risk for increased complications from COVID-19 and death.

The authors say policy implications should take several forms: Organizations should increase efficiency in administering the vaccine and providing adequate places to quarantine. Agencies and organizations alike should consider additional health conditions of those under community supervision and provide suitable

medical plans and solutions.

Organizations that focus on re-entry should include personnel and resources that are equipped to interact with correctional populations, disadvantaged populations and those who may have corresponding disabilities. Services and treatment plans should extend to those in less populated areas.

Lastly, reentry organizations and correctional institutions should have pertinent and accurate information on COVID-19 resources, vaccinations sites and the like.

Although the pandemic is dwindling down, such policy recommendations are pertinent to improving and subsequently closing the gap in medical care for community supervised populations.


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