Prisons and jails are considered closed facilities. Few visitors gain access to them even though they house people for months, years, decades, and, sometimes, entire lifetimes. As Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in a 2015 opinion, “Prisoners are shut away—out of sight, out of mind” while their conditions of confinement are “too easily ignored” by the public. One way to achieve the goals of transparency and accountability, while ensuring safe and humane conditions of confinement, is a formal and independent system of oversight of jail and prison operations, says the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University in a new report on oversight of correctional institutions. There are about 18 entities overseeing prisons in the U.S., including the Correctional Association of New York, the John Howard Association in Illinois, and the Pennsylvania Prison Society. There are also independent prison oversight agencies within the executive branch of state governments, such as the Office of the Inspector General in California. A handful of independent entities oversee local jails, such as the New York City Board of Corrections and the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. Most state prisons rely on monitors who work for the very state correctional agencies that manage these facilities. This patchwork of oversight provides insufficient coverage, Brennan says. And the public health crisis resulting from the highly contagious and deadly COVID-19 virus has shone a spotlight on the prevalence of inhumane conditions of confinement in correctional facilities. At least 3,059 inmates and 308 correctional staff have died from COVID-19, and over 592,148 prisoners have contracted the virus. The situation has only been exacerbated by the lack of transparency about the spread, toll, and management of COVID-19 across the thousands of correctional and detention facilities. The Brennan report explores the landscape of prison and jail oversight reform since 2018.