Skip navigation
The Habeas Citebook Ineffective Counsel - Header

Impact of Covid-19 on State and Fed Prisons-Aug 2022

Download original document:
Brief thumbnail
This text is machine-read, and may contain errors. Check the original document to verify accuracy.
U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Justice Programs
Bureau of Justice Statistics

AUGUST 2022

Special Report

NCJ 304500

Impact of COVID-19 on State and Federal
Prisons, March 2020–February 2021
E. Ann Carson, Ph.D., BJS Statistician
Melissa Nadel, Ph.D., Abt Associates; and Gerry Gaes, Ph.D., Independent Consultant to Abt Associates

S

tate and federal correctional facilities performed
4,816,400 viral tests for COVID-19 on persons in
prison from the beginning of March 2020 to the
end of February 2021. Of these tests, 396,300 (8.2%)
were positive for COVID-19, representing 374,400
unique infected persons in state and federal prisons.
Te infection rate in prisons during this period was
219 per 1,000 state prisoners at risk of exposure to
COVID-19 and 298 per 1,000 federal prisoners at risk
of exposure.1 Staf in state correctional facilities had an
infection rate of 269 per 1,000 staf, while those working
in Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) facilities had a rate
of 188 per 1,000.
Almost 2,500 state and federal prisoners died of
COVID-19-related causes during the 12 months
from March 2020 to February 2021. White prisoners
accounted for 44% of COVID-19-related deaths in
prisons, while black prisoners accounted for 34%
(fgure 1). Eighty-three percent of COVID-19-related
deaths in state and federal prisons occurred in persons
age 55 or older.
1Total prisoners at risk of exposure to COVID-19 is equal to the

number of persons in state or federal prison custody at the end of
February 2020 plus those admitted in the following 12 months.

Figure 1
Percent of COVID-19 infections and deaths and 2020
yearend population of persons in the custody of state
and federal prisons, by race or ethnicity,
March 1, 2020–February 28, 2021
Asian/Native Hawaiian/Other Paciÿc Islander*
Hispanic
White*
Black*
or
American Indian/Alaska Native* Other/two
more races*

COVID-19 infections
COVID-19 deaths
Population,
December 31, 2020
0

20

40

60
Percent

80

100

Note: Includes positive results of viral (polymerase chain reaction) COVID-19
tests and COVID-19-related deaths among persons held for state or federal
correctional authorities in government-operated and privately operated
prisons, regardless of sentence status or length. See Methodology. Race or
ethnicity was missing for almost 10% of COVID-19-infected prisoners and
3% of COVID-19-related deaths. See tables 8 and 10 for percentages. Race
and ethnicity data are derived from administrative records and will difer
from other published distributions of race and ethnicity in the state and
federal prison systems. For the U.S. prison population counts of race and
ethnicity, please see Prisoners in 2020 - Statistical Tables (NCJ 302776, BJS,
December 2021), appendix table 2.
*Excludes persons of Hispanic origin (e.g., “white” refers to non-Hispanic
white persons and “black” refers to non-Hispanic black persons).
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Prisoner Statistics
program – Coronavirus Pandemic Supplemental Survey, 2021.

HIGHLIGHTS
„

„

BJS’s survey to measure the impact of COVID-19 on
U.S. prisons from the end of February 2020 to the end
of February 2021 found that the number of persons
in the custody of state, federal, or privately operated
prisons under state or federal contract decreased
more than 16%.
The prison population declined by 157,500 persons
during the frst 6 months of the COVID-19 study
period through the end of August 2020, and
by 58,300 in the 6 months through the end of
February 2021.

„

Twenty-four states released a total of 37,700 persons
from prison on an expedited basis (earlier than
scheduled) during the COVID-19 study period.

„

State and federal prisons had a crude mortality
rate (unadjusted for sex, race or ethnicity, or age)
of 1.5 COVID-19-related deaths per 1,000 prisoners
from the end of February 2020 to the end of
February 2021.

„

From the end of February 2020 to the end of
February 2021, a total of 196 correctional staf in
state and federal prisons died as a result of COVID-19.

Findings in this report are based on the Bureau of
Justice Statistics’ (BJS) National Prisoner Statistics
program – Coronavirus Pandemic Supplemental
Survey (NPS-CPan), conducted from April to
June of 2021. Respondents in state departments of
corrections (DOCs) and the BOP were asked for
details on their monthly populations of prisoners
in custody, admissions, and releases from January
2020 to February 2021. BJS also requested counts
and demographic distributions of prisoners who
tested positive for or died as a result of COVID-19.
This 14-month survey period enabled BJS to track
monthly trends in admissions and custody populations
occurring just prior to widespread COVID-19 infection
in the United States. The NPS-CPan also covered state
and BOP policies and practices to mitigate transmission

of the virus, to expedite release of prisoners, and to
determine a process for vaccinating staff and prisoners
in early 2021.
BJS augmented these data with prisoner information
from the annual NPS and National Corrections
Reporting Program (NCRP) data collections. Unless
otherwise noted, statistics in this report are based
on the number of persons in the custody of prison
facilities operated by states, the BOP, and private
companies under contract with state or federal
governments. The statistics presented in this report
will differ from previously published statistics on
U.S. prison populations based on the count of prisoners
under jurisdication, or legal authority of state and
federal governments.

Terms and definitions
COVID-19—Coronavirus disease and the virus causing
the disease, i.e., severe acute respiratory syndrome
coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

Home confinement—When prisoners are in BOP
custody but living in their residence or the residence of
a designated family member.

COVID-19 test—A viral or polymerase chain reaction
(PCR) test for COVID-19. Respondents were asked to
exclude antibody or serology tests from their counts of
COVID-19 tests and positive tests.

Infection rate—The number of persons who tested
positive for COVID-19 per 1,000 persons at risk of
exposure to COVID-19. (See Methodology for BJS’s
calculation of infection rate.)

Crude mortality rate—The number of deaths per
1,000 U.S. residents, unadjusted for differences in sex,
race or ethnicity, or age. (See Methodology for the
Bureau of Justice Statistics’ (BJS) calculation of crude
mortality rate.)

Prison/prison facility—A long-term confinement
facility that is operated by a state or federal government
or private company under state or federal contract.
It includes prisons, penitentiaries, and correctional
institutions; boot camps; prison farms; reception,
diagnostic, and classification centers; release centers,
halfway houses, and road camps; forestry and
conservation camps; vocational training facilities; prison
hospitals; and drug and alcohol treatment facilities.
Prisons typically hold persons convicted of a felony, or
those with a sentence of more than 1 year imposed by
a state or federal court. Sentence length may vary by
state. Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Rhode
Island, and Vermont each operate an integrated system
that combines prisons and jails, so their counts include
prison and jail populations.

Custody—The physical holding of a person in a prison
operated by a state or the Federal Bureau of Prisons
(BOP), regardless of sentence length or which authority
has jurisdiction over the prisoner.
Custody plus privates—The physical holding of a
person in a prison operated by a state, the BOP, or
a private company under state or federal contract,
regardless of sentence length or which authority has
jurisdiction over the prisoner.
Expedited release—The release of a prisoner from the
jurisdiction of a state department of corrections or the
BOP at least 1 day before their scheduled or expected
release date or post-custody community supervision
eligibility date, to limit prisoner risk and exposure to
COVID-19 or due to COVID-19-related understaffing,
court orders, or legislative mandates.
Federal prison system—The system in which adult
prisoners are held in the custody of the BOP in
secure federal prison facilities, nonsecure community
correctional facilities, and privately operated facilities.
Persons convicted of a felony in the District of Columbia
serve their sentence in federal prison.

Prisoner—A person confined in a state or federal prison
or privately operated prison under state or federal
contract. Counts of prisoners exclude persons held in
local jails under the legal authority of a state or federal
correctional authority.
Test positivity rate—The number of COVID-19 tests
with a positive result per 1,000 tests performed in a
correctional jurisdiction. (See Methodology for BJS’s
calculation of test positivity rate.)

IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON STATE AND FEDERAL PRISONS, MARCH 2020–FEBRUARY 2021 | AUGUST 2022

2

The number of prisoners in custody declined in all
states during the study period
State DOCs held 197,300 fewer prisoners (a 17%
decline) at the end of February 2021 than they did one
year earlier (table 1). The number of persons in BOP
custody decreased by 18,500 (almost 12%) during this
period. Every state, with the exception of Louisiana
(down 9%), Tennessee (down 7%), Alaska (down 5%),
Nebraska (down 5%), and Idaho (down 4%), had at
least a 10% decline in its prison population (map 1).
States with the largest prison populations (Texas,
California, and Florida) and the BOP experienced a
combined decrease of 84,100 prisoners. This accounted
for 39% of the total decline of 215,800 prisoners across
the United States from the end of February 2020 to the
end of February 2021.
The majority of the decrease in the number of prisoners
occurred between the beginning of February and the
end of August, 2020 (12% in state DOCs and 10% in
the BOP). (See table 1.) During these 6 months, the
prison populations of all states and the BOP declined at
least 4%.
Between August 2020 and February 2021, nine states
had an increase in prisoners. Of the 40 states with
decreases to their prison populations during this time,
New Jersey and Oregon experienced greater declines
from the end of August 2020 to February 2021 than
from February 2020 through the end of August 2020.

MAP 1
Percent decline in persons in the custody of state and
federal prisons, by jurisdiction, February 29, 2020–
February 28, 2021
BOP

AK

ME
VT

MT ND MN WI

WA

WY SD

ID
OR

CO

NV
CA

AZ

IA
NE

UT

IN

IL

NY MA
PA

OH

KY WV MD

MO
KS

OK

NM

MI

AR
LA

TX
HI

TN
MS

NH

NJ

RI
CT

DE

VA
AL

SC
GA
FL

NC

0.0%–9.9%
10.0%–19.9%
20.0%–29.9%
30.0% or more
Not reported

Note: Includes persons held for state or federal correctional authorities
in government-operated and privately operated prisons, regardless of
sentence status or length. Estimates will differ from previously published
statistics. Persons convicted of a felony in the District of Columbia
were in the custody of the BOP. Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii,
Rhode Island, and Vermont each operate an integrated system that
combines prisons and jails, so their percentages include prison and
jail populations. Excludes prisoners held in local jails on behalf of state
or federal correctional authorities. Counts for the Federal Bureau of
Prisons include only persons in the custody of BOP-operated facilities.
See table 1 for percentages.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Prisoner Statistics program
– Coronavirus Pandemic Supplemental Survey, 2021.

Table 1
Persons in the custody of state and federal prisons, by jurisdiction, February 29, 2020, August 31, 2020, and
February 28, 2021
Jurisdiction
U.S. totala
Federalb
Statea
Alabama
Alaskac
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticutc
Delawarec
Florida
Georgia
Hawaiic
Idaho
Illinois

Feb 29, 2020
1,308,754
157,218
1,151,536
22,004
4,769
42,282
17,620
124,749
18,880
12,409
5,105
93,867
53,424
3,699
7,815
37,731

Aug 31, 2020
1,151,223
141,520
1,009,703
19,328
4,413
39,153
15,232
102,982
15,807
9,534
4,219
84,602
47,863
2,984
6,818
31,178

Feb 28, 2021
1,092,936
138,744
954,192
17,553
4,517
36,975
14,686
96,161
14,385
9,043
4,360
79,425
44,285
3,090
7,531
28,277

Change,
Feb 29, 2020–
Feb 28, 2021
-215,818
-18,474
-197,344
-4,451
-252
-5,307
-2,934
-28,588
-4,495
-3,366
-745
-14,442
-9,139
-609
-284
-9,454

Percent change,
Feb 29, 2020–
Feb 28, 2021
-16.5%
-11.8%
-17.1%
-20.2
-5.3
-12.6
-16.7
-22.9
-23.8
-27.1
-14.6
-15.4
-17.1
-16.5
-3.6
-25.1

Percent change, Percent change,
Feb 29, 2020–
Aug 31, 2020–
Aug 31, 2020
Feb 28, 2021
-12.0%
-5.1%
-10.0%
-2.0%
-12.3%
-5.5%
-12.2
-9.2
-7.5
2.4
-7.4
-5.6
-13.6
-3.6
-17.4
-6.6
-16.3
-9.0
-23.2
-5.1
-17.4
3.3
-9.9
-6.1
-10.4
-7.5
-19.3
3.6
-12.8
10.5
-17.4
-9.3

Continued on next page
IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON STATE AND FEDERAL PRISONS, MARCH 2020–FEBRUARY 2021 | AUGUST 2022

3

Table 1 (continued)
Persons in the custody of state and federal prisons, by jurisdiction, February 29, 2020, August 31, 2020, and
February 28, 2021
Jurisdiction
Feb 29, 2020
Indiana
26,871
Iowa
9,180
Kansas
9,799
Kentucky
23,188
Louisiana
14,841
Maine
2,164
Maryland
20,589
Massachusetts
7,940
Michigan
37,946
Minnesota
8,929
Mississippi
13,270
Missouri
/
Montana
4,527
Nebraska
5,562
12,371
Nevada
New Hampshire
2,472
New Jersey
18,098
New Mexico
6,843
New York
43,786
North Carolina
35,176
North Dakota
1,750
Ohio
48,765
Oklahoma
24,979
Oregon
14,435
Pennsylvania
45,636
Rhode Islandc
2,690
South Carolina
18,047
South Dakota
3,859
Tennessee
18,519
Texas
140,419
Utah
5,037
Vermontc
1,394
Virginia
29,232
Washington
17,311
West Virginia
5,927
Wisconsin
23,313
Wyoming
2,317

Aug 31, 2020
24,508
7,795
8,580
19,533
14,107
1,790
18,419
6,969
34,741
7,575
11,654
/
3,923
5,220
11,505
2,228
15,270
6,271
37,016
31,830
1,279
44,564
21,985
13,848
41,148
2,211
16,224
3,381
16,443
121,128
4,204
1,194
25,919
15,446
4,381
21,167
2,134

Feb 28, 2021
23,707
8,138
8,714
18,627
13,560
1,672
17,610
6,452
33,215
7,250
11,050
/
3,838
5,282
10,891
2,107
11,745
5,942
32,376
29,484
1,458
43,246
21,676
12,404
38,545
2,150
15,670
3,262
17,261
117,843
4,099
1,090
23,486
14,518
3,970
19,521
2,045

Change,
Feb 29, 2020–
Feb 28, 2021
-3,164
-1,042
-1,085
-4,561
-1,281
-492
-2,979
-1,488
-4,731
-1,679
-2,220
:
-689
-280
-1,480
-365
-6,353
-901
-11,410
-5,692
-292
-5,519
-3,303
-2,031
-7,091
-540
-2,377
-597
-1,258
-22,576
-938
-304
-5,746
-2,793
-1,957
-3,792
-272

Percent change,
Feb 29, 2020–
Feb 28, 2021
-11.8
-11.4
-11.1
-19.7
-8.6
-22.7
-14.5
-18.7
-12.5
-18.8
-16.7
:
-15.2
-5.0
-12.0
-14.8
-35.1
-13.2
-26.1
-16.2
-16.7
-11.3
-13.2
-14.1
-15.5
-20.1
-13.2
-15.5
-6.8
-16.1
-18.6
-21.8
-19.7
-16.1
-33.0
-16.3
-11.7

Percent change, Percent change,
Feb 29, 2020–
Aug 31, 2020–
Aug 31, 2020
Feb 28, 2021
-8.8
-3.3
-15.1
4.4
-12.4
1.6
-15.8
-4.6
-4.9
-3.9
-17.3
-6.6
-10.5
-4.4
-12.2
-7.4
-8.4
-4.4
-15.2
-4.3
-12.2
-5.2
:
:
-13.3
-2.2
-6.1
1.2
-7.0
-5.3
-9.9
-5.4
-15.6
-23.1
-8.4
-5.2
-15.5
-12.5
-9.5
-7.4
-26.9
14.0
-8.6
-3.0
-12.0
-1.4
-4.1
-10.4
-9.8
-6.3
-17.8
-2.8
-10.1
-3.4
-12.4
-3.5
-11.2
5.0
-13.7
-2.7
-16.5
-2.5
-14.3
-8.7
-11.3
-9.4
-10.8
-6.0
-26.1
-9.4
-9.2
-7.8
-7.9
-4.2

Note: Includes persons held for state or federal correctional authorities in government-operated and privately operated prisons, regardless of
sentence status or length. Excludes prisoners held in local jails on behalf of state or federal correctional authorities. Estimates will differ from
previously published statistics.
:Not calculated.
/Not reported.
aTotals exclude Missouri, which did not submit data to the National Prisoner Statistics program – Coronavirus Pandemic Supplemental Survey.
bThe Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) did not report data for privately operated prisons under federal contract, so BOP counts include only persons in
the custody of BOP-operated facilities. Persons convicted of a felony in the District of Columbia were in the custody of the BOP.
cPrisons and jails form one integrated system. Data include both prison and jail populations.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Prisoner Statistics program – Coronavirus Pandemic Supplemental Survey, 2021.

IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON STATE AND FEDERAL PRISONS, MARCH 2020–FEBRUARY 2021 | AUGUST 2022

4

Admissions to prison decreased 66% during the
pandemic from March 2020 to April 2020
State DOCs and the BOP had 438,400 admissions to
state and federal prisons from January 2020 through
February 2021 (table 2). The largest number of
admissions per month during that 14-month period
occurred in January 2020 (54,200). Admissions
decreased during February 2020 (down almost 10%
from January) and March 2020 (down almost 16%
from February). About 14,100 admissions to prison
occurred in April 2020 (down 66% from March 2020).

During April 2020, the BOP had 37 admissions, and
California, Georgia, North Dakota, and Oklahoma
each had 10 or fewer prison admissions.
Monthly admissions to state and federal prisons
increased each month, from 14,100 in April 2020 to
37,700 in October 2020, and decreased to between
28,000 and 32,000 per month through February 2021.
While the BOP had more admissions in February 2021
(4,100) than in February 2020 (3,000), states had about
60% fewer admissions (27,700 in February 2021 and
46,000 in February 2020).

Table 2
Admissions to the custody of state and federal prisons, by jurisdiction, January 1, 2020–February 28, 2021

Jurisdiction
U.S. totala
Federalb
Statea
Alabama
Alaskac
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticutc
Delawarec
Florida
Georgia
Hawaiic
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina

Jan
54,167
3,670
50,497
794
2,430
1,438
879
2,781
763
1,753
1,235
2,342
1,451
1,027
589
1,886
868
530
440
1,668
380
89
1,625
458
905
548
592
/
760
243
467
103
678
184
1,643
2,077

Feb
48,964
2,976
45,988
645
2,313
1,201
668
2,429
730
1,516
1,035
2,196
1,373
939
486
1,494
754
478
449
1,587
388
86
1,525
437
816
457
560
/
732
253
490
118
522
184
1,587
1,849

Mar
41,225
2,969
38,256
443
2,179
1,182
1,062
2,269
626
1,042
712
1,467
962
1,156
426
1,306
744
425
414
1,223
266
59
110
254
783
453
454
/
590
221
448
90
284
188
920
2,003

Apr
14,099
37
14,062
123
1,547
938
631
^
429
368
349
552
^
939
249
144
321
217
149
659
145
12
580
96
83
212
168
/
101
158
372
67
147
175
78
567

May
17,569
1,135
16,434
121
1,880
1,065
594
37
363
609
508
438
1,364
499
531
386
271
98
110
744
95
^
822
140
297
235
239
/
471
174
301
34
186
110
51
287

2020
Jun
Jul
21,027 23,777
287 1,399
20,740 22,378
222 127
1,992 2,177
635 557
489 139
194
^
451 435
600 744
550 678
864 518
520 449
613 721
499 288
483 633
450 485
289 214
160 147
893 900
61
98
^
67
678 880
172 315
417 371
272 288
456 447
/
/
575 432
199 183
319 320
48
75
159 250
76 181
323 607
1,940 1,577

Aug
28,323
1,884
26,439
^^
2,259
1,117
233
104
433
735
696
1,059
621
925
340
1,102
444
310
172
938
89
87
1,008
270
488
263
479
/
523
205
341
81
251
160
735
1,362

Sep
32,471
2,937
29,534
201
2,195
996
364
536
468
844
724
623
741
447
379
1,275
527
310
235
1,091
535
56
1,041
289
461
347
526
/
377
217
363
74
309
153
851
854

Oct
37,724
2,753
34,971
37
2,102
975
378
1,560
438
970
866
1,361
788
479
395
1,266
544
270
317
1,041
700
61
1,154
320
549
350
566
/
264
206
333
80
325
165
746
1,111

Nov
28,823
1,683
27,140
123
1,851
892
609
1,748
340
833
671
826
70
415
389
817
479
224
282
975
103
^^
923
241
409
239
491
/
312
213
281
79
219
169
505
1,280

Dec
30,100
2,351
27,749
215
2,098
959
568
^
408
834
590
916
1,968
467
454
843
483
308
407
835
87
67
900
205
457
322
492
/
411
197
328
58
265
172
356
1,360

2021
Jan Feb
28,329 31,822
2,503 4,144
25,826 27,678
^ 137
2,094 1,901
886 864
86 607
593 1,743
412 408
902 832
691 613
1,797 1,993
^^ 791
474 464
372 423
855 970
489 504
231 265
376 317
1,001 950
74
92
39
52
865 775
214 245
485 427
233 308
418 442
/
/
515 522
204 226
326 324
65
54
291 228
147 185
56
41
1,056 1,261

Total
admissions,
Jan 2020–
Feb 2021
438,420
30,728
407,692
3,225
29,018
13,705
7,307
14,003
6,704
12,582
9,918
16,952
11,140
9,565
5,820
13,460
7,363
4,169
3,975
14,505
3,113
712
12,886
3,656
6,948
4,527
6,330
:
6,585
2,899
5,013
1,026
4,114
2,249
8,499
18,584

Continued on next page
IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON STATE AND FEDERAL PRISONS, MARCH 2020–FEBRUARY 2021 | AUGUST 2022

5

Table 2 (continued)
Admissions to the custody of state and federal prisons, by jurisdiction, January 1, 2020–February 28, 2021

Jurisdiction
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Islandc
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermontc
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming

Jan
125
1,775
700
432
1,385
1,065
530
424
1,778
4,724
363
618
743
626
362
1,131
90

Feb
115
1,632
632
391
1,309
1,084
595
376
1,718
4,468
301
435
613
600
361
988
73

2020
Mar Apr May Jun
Jul
61
^
^^
83
96
1,731 517 566 918 1,013
332
^
^ 322 284
429 285 208 236 278
1,101 413 484 554 804
707 279 478 626 736
506 101 265 285
35
391 249 210 291 281
732
71
^^ 206
^^
4,954 625
41 100 1,565
312 182 189 200 265
283 162 168 232 237
314
22
20
^^
59
602 293 293 264 314
206 113 146 225 146
764 132 202 532 897
70
^^
49
50
45

Aug Sep
45 105
1,061 1,407
668 236
227 274
846 711
716 756
33 665
297 285
1,280 912
1,659 3,835
217 247
227 209
^^
95
337 383
143 226
730 678
59 101

Oct Nov Dec
57 114 112
1,243 954 1,205
547 578 613
291 258 333
891 938 788
830 673 612
414 361 367
231 209 283
1,948 1,238 792
5,713 3,416 3,099
249
96 324
183 141 142
95 106
^^
497 398 236
284 224 242
715 392 447
66
^
94

2021
Jan Feb
123 131
1,146 1,158
456 486
269 236
796 830
769 734
206 244
286 290
999 813
2,587 2,068
237 292
139 115
253 205
411 341
305 255
460 464
95
52

Total
admissions,
Jan 2020–
Feb 2021
1,190
16,326
5,865
4,147
11,850
10,065
4,607
4,103
12,531
38,854
3,474
3,291
2,591
5,595
3,238
8,532
881

Note: Includes persons admitted to government-operated or privately operated state and federal prisons, regardless of sentence status or length.
Excludes persons admitted to local jails on behalf of state or federal correctional authorities. Estimates will differ from previously published statistics.
:Not calculated.
/Not reported.
^10 or fewer admissions.
^^Estimate suppressed to protect confidentiality.
aTotals exclude Missouri, which did not submit data to the National Prisoner Statistics program – Coronavirus Pandemic Supplemental Survey.
bThe Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) did not report data for privately operated prisons under federal contract, so BOP counts include only persons in
the custody of BOP-operated facilities. Persons convicted of a felony in the District of Columbia were in the custody of the BOP.
cPrisons and jails form one integrated system. Data include both prison and jail populations.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Prisoner Statistics program – Coronavirus Pandemic Supplemental Survey, 2021.

IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON STATE AND FEDERAL PRISONS, MARCH 2020–FEBRUARY 2021 | AUGUST 2022

6

Fewer than 10% of releases from prison during
the COVID-19 study period were earlier than
originally scheduled
From the beginning of January 2020 to the end of
February 2021, state DOCs and the BOP made 648,400
releases from prison, of which about 37,700 (6%) were
classified as expedited releases (table 3). While 25
states and the BOP reported no expedited releases (i.e.,
persons released prior to their scheduled or expected
release date or date of eligibility for post-custody
supervision in the community), some jurisdictions

took steps to ensure prompt release from prison or to
other forms of supervision. The BOP released almost
27,000 prisoners to home confinement during the
NPS-CPan study period. These were not expedited
releases because the prisoners were still under BOP
authority, although the releases did reduce crowding
in federal prisons.2 Some states empowered judges or
parole boards to decide whether to release prisoners
before their scheduled release date, but state DOCs
were not always informed whether the COVID-19
pandemic was a factor in the release.
2See pages 46–47 at https://www.gao.gov/assets/gao-21-502.pdf.

Table 3
Releases from the custody of state and federal prisons, by jurisdiction, January 1, 2020–February 28, 2021
Jurisdiction
U.S. totala
Federalb,c
Statea
Alabama
Alaskad
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticutd
Delawared
Florida
Georgia
Hawaiid
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi

Total releases
648,415
46,993
601,422
7,160
29,164
19,169
10,409
42,742
10,643
13,978
10,693
32,797
20,895
9,614
6,034
23,223
11,294
5,272
5,278
18,414
4,515
1,297
13,271
4,266
11,649
6,150
8,249

Expedited releases
Number
Percent of total
37,684
5.8%
0
0.0%
37,684
6.3%
0
0.0
0
0.0
0
0.0
1,803
17.3
11,584
27.1
611
5.7
0
0.0
0
0.0
0
0.0
918
4.4
430
4.5
293
4.9
0
0.0
0
0.0
4,700
89.2
/
:
1,717
9.3
68
1.5
0
0.0
1,365
10.3
73
1.7
0
0.0
366
6.0
0
0.0

Jurisdiction
Total releases
Missouri
/
Montana
6,757
Nebraska
3,203
Nevada
6,621
New Hampshire
1,383
New Jersey
10,287
New Mexico
3,585
New York
20,400
North Carolina
24,287
North Dakota
1,393
Ohio
23,208
Oklahoma
9,815
Oregon
6,004
Pennsylvania
18,820
Rhode Islandd
10,408
South Carolina
7,157
South Dakota
4,654
Tennessee
14,382
Texas
61,515
Utah
4,603
3,276
Vermontd
Virginia
7,933
Washington
8,405
West Virginia
3,550
Wisconsin
12,264
Wyoming
1,336

Expedited releases
Number
Percent of total
/
:
24
0.4
0
0.0
0
0.0
0
0.0
3,732
36.3
408
11.4
2,106
10.3
3,500
14.4
191
13.7
/
:
0
0.0
0
0.0
146
0.8
52
0.5
0
0.0
0
0.0
0
0.0
0
0.0
1,420
30.8
/
:
1,597
20.1
422
5.0
158
4.5
0
0.0
0
0.0

Note: Includes persons released from government-operated and privately operated state and federal prisons, regardless of sentence status or length.
Excludes prisoners released from local jails on behalf of state or federal correctional authorities. Expedited release is the release of a person at least
1 day before their scheduled or expected release date or post-custody community supervision eligibility date, to limit prisoner risk and exposure to
COVID-19 or due to COVID-19-related understaffing, court orders, or legislative mandates. Estimates will differ from previously published statistics.
:Not calculated.
/Not reported.
aTotals exclude Missouri, which did not submit data to the National Prisoner Statistics program – Coronavirus Pandemic Supplemental Survey.
bThe Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) did not report data for privately operated prisons under federal contract, so BOP counts include only persons in
the custody of BOP-operated facilities. Persons convicted of a felony in the District of Columbia were in the custody of the BOP.
cThe BOP had no expedited releases but moved almost 27,000 prisoners to home confinement in 2020. Prisoners on home confinement are still in BOP
custody but living in their own residence or the residence of a designated family member.
dPrisons and jails form one integrated system. Data include both prison and jail populations.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Prisoner Statistics program – Coronavirus Pandemic Supplemental Survey, 2021.

IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON STATE AND FEDERAL PRISONS, MARCH 2020–FEBRUARY 2021 | AUGUST 2022

7

A number of states used expedited procedures
to release a large number of prisoners during the
14 months between January 2020 and February 2021.
Of the 5,300 releases from Iowa state prisons during
this period, 4,700 (89%) were expedited. Thirty-six
percent of New Jersey’s 10,300 releases were completed
ahead of schedule, as were 31% of the 4,600 releases
by Utah. California accounted for almost 31% of
expedited releases nationwide during this period. The
state expedited the release of 11,600 of its prisoners, or
27% of all its prison releases.
State DOCs reported a range of criteria used to
evaluate whether prisoners would be granted expedited
release due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Twenty-five
states reported that the time left on a prisoner’s
sentence contributed to the expedited release decision
(table 4). The amount of remaining prison time that
the states would consider ranged from 30 days to
anything less than a life sentence, though about half
(12) of the states restricted expedited release eligibility
to prisoners with 6 to 12 months left to serve. (See
appendix table 2.)
Nineteen states reported that they considered only
persons currently sentenced for nonviolent offenses as
candidates for expedited release, and 10 of these states
further required the prisoners to have no history of
being sentenced for a violent crime. Four states (Illinois,
Kansas, Oklahoma, and Vermont) established expedited
release policies but ultimately did not release anyone
before their scheduled or anticipated release date.

Seventeen states considered a prisoner’s health status
when deciding whether to release them early, and
16 required proof of post-prison housing in the
community before approving expedited release. Twelve
states set a minimum eligibility age for expedited
release or accounted for age in the release decision.
Five states set a minimum age of 55 or 65, two specified
that prisoners age 18 or older could be considered
for expedited release. The remaining five states used
age as one factor in the decision but did not specify a
minimum age.
Table 4
Number of jurisdictions that adopted criteria for
expedited release due to the COVID-19 pandemic,
January 2020–February 2021
Criterion
No policy for expedited release
Time left on sentence
Nonviolent offenders only
Health status
Verified post-prison housing in community
Risk assessment score
Age
Only nonviolent offenders with no violent
prior convictions
Positive viral test for COVID-19
Prisoner was unsentenced

Number of jurisdictions
22
25
19
17
16
14
12
10
3
1

Note: Expedited release is the release of a person at least 1 day before
their scheduled or expected release date, or post-custody community
supervision eligibility date, to limit prisoner risk and exposure to
COVID-19 or due to COVID-19-related understaffing, court orders, or
legislative mandates. Jurisdictions could adopt criteria for expedited
release at any time from January 2020 and February 2021. See appendix
table 2 for jurisdiction-level data.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Prisoner Statistics program
– Coronavirus Pandemic Supplemental Survey, 2021.

IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON STATE AND FEDERAL PRISONS, MARCH 2020–FEBRUARY 2021 | AUGUST 2022

8

Trends in state prison custody populations, admissions, and releases by ofense
type before and during BJS’s COVID-19 prison study period
Using BJS’s National Corrections Reporting Program
(NCRP) data from 37 states, prepandemic trends in
monthly counts of admissions, releases, and month-end
prison populations were compared to monthly
counts after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in
March 2020. This was done through an interrupted
time-series analysis, which distinguished between
persons sentenced for violent and nonviolent ofenses.
(See Methodology for a discussion of the analysis and
data used.)
Admissions
In January 2018, the 37 states for which data were
available admitted an average of 294 persons
sentenced for violent ofenses and 757 persons
sentenced for nonviolent ofenses (fgure 2). From
January 2018 to February 2020, the average number of
admissions of persons convicted of violent ofenses was
relatively fat, while the average number of admissions
of persons sentenced for nonviolent ofenses declined
by 3.7 per month. In the frst month of the pandemic,
the average number of admissions involving nonviolent
ofenses decreased to 289, and the average number of
admissions involving violent ofenses dropped to 111.
In the 10 months following the pandemic’s onset, there
were no signifcant increases in admissions involving
violent or nonviolent ofenses.

There was substantial state-to-state variation in the
pandemic’s impact on state prison admissions involving
violent and nonviolent ofenses (fgures 3a–e). Five
states illustrate the range of variation observed among
the 37 states that submitted 2020 NCRP data. At the
start of the pandemic, all fve states experienced a
signifcant drop in the number of persons admitted
for violent and nonviolent ofenses. However, state
admission practices diverged in the 10 months that
followed. In State 1, the number of persons admitted
for nonviolent ofenses decreased on average by
4.7 persons each month before March 2020. The state
then accelerated its decrease in nonviolent ofense
admissions to a monthly average of 25.9 fewer
admissions. Admissions in State 1 showed an average
decline of 3.9 persons sentenced for violent ofenses
prior to the pandemic’s onset. This trend reversed after
March 2020, when admissions for violent ofenses
increased by 8.7 each month. State 5 had a similar
pattern of admissions for violent ofenses before and
after the pandemic’s onset, but it showed an average
monthly increase of 13 prisoners sentenced for
nonviolent ofenses after the onset of the pandemic.

Continued on next page

Figure 2
Mean number of persons admitted to state prisons in 37 states, by ofense type, January 2018–December 2020
Mean number of admissions

Start of COVID-19 pandemic

800
700

········--·································-·······---------------------------•
'
For nonviolent o˜ense
'

600
500
400
300

I'··············· ------·····

For violent o˜ense

200

-

100
0

Jan
2018

May

Sep

Jan
2019

May

Sep

Jan
2020

May

Sep

Dec
2020

Note: Data are based on the 37 states that submitted National Corrections Reporting Program data from 2018 to 2020. For March 2020, data
are shown for the beginning and the end of the month. See Methodology for discussion of analysis and ofense types. See appendix table 3
for estimates.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Corrections Reporting Program, 2018–2020.

IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON STATE AND FEDERAL PRISONS, MARCH 2020–FEBRUARY 2021 | AUGUST 2022

9

Trends in state prison custody populations, admissions, and releases by ofense
type before and during BJS’s COVID-19 prison study period (continued)
Prisoners in custody

the end of each month for violent (down 12 persons per
month) and nonviolent (down 43 persons per month)

Prior to the pandemic’s onset, there were average
declines in the number of state prisoners in custody at

Continued on next page

FigureS 3a–e
Number of persons admitted to state prisons in fve states, by ofense type, January 2018–December 2020
State 1

State 4

Number of admissions
1,800

1,500
1,200

Number of admissions

Start of COVID-19 pandemic

For nonviolent o˜ense

1,500

·-------------------------~
For violent o˜ense

1,200

900

900

600

-

·---

300
0

Jan
2018

May

Sep

Jan
2019

May

State 2
Number of admissions

Sep

Jan
2020

May

Sep Dec
2020

600

I

Jan
2018

1,200

1,200

900

900

For nonviolent o˜ense

600

·-------------------------~'
300
Jan
2018

May

ii

Sep

-- ---'

Jan
2019

May

State 3
Number of admissions

Sep

Jan
2020

May

May

Sep

Jan
2019

May

ii

Sep Dec
2020

300
0

Sep

i: iii iii iii

Jan
2020

May

Sep Dec
2020

Start of COVID-19 pandemic

1,800
1,500

0

'

'
·-------------------------1
For violent o˜ense
·=========
0

1,500

For violent o˜ense

For nonviolent o˜ense

300

State 5
Number of admissions

Start of COVID-19 pandemic

1,800

600

Start of COVID-19 pandemic

1,800

For nonviolent o˜ense
'

·-----------------------~:'
For violent o˜ense

Jan
2018

•--------I

May

Sep

Jan
2019

May

Sep

Jan
2020

---

iii iii iii

May

Sep Dec
2020

Start of COVID-19 pandemic

1,800

·-------------------------~''

1,500 For nonviolent o˜ense
1,200
900

For violent o˜ense

-------

600
300
0

-

'

i

ii

Jan
2018

May

Sep

Jan
2019

May

ii

Sep

i

Jan
2020

''I

May

ii

Sep Dec
2020

Note: Data are based on 5 of the 37 states that submitted National Corrections Reporting Program data from 2018 to 2020. For March 2020,
data are shown for the beginning and the end of the month. See Methodology for discussion of analysis and ofense types. See appendix table 4
for estimates.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Corrections Reporting Program, 2018–2020.

IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON STATE AND FEDERAL PRISONS, MARCH 2020–FEBRUARY 2021 | AUGUST 2022

10

Trends in state prison custody populations, admissions, and releases by ofense
type before and during BJS’s COVID-19 prison study period (continued)
ofenses (fgure 4). State prison populations declined
after the onset of the pandemic, from an average of
15,390 persons in custody for violent ofenses at the
end of March 2020 to an average of 14,091 at the end of
December 2020. The average number of persons in state
prison for nonviolent ofenses decreased from 10,432 on
March 31, 2020 to 7,872 on December 31, 2020.
Releases
During the 26 months prior to the onset of the
pandemic, the number of persons released from state
prison after serving time for a violent or nonviolent

ofense did not change signifcantly (fgure 5). After the
onset of the pandemic, releases decreased more among
persons who served time for nonviolent ofenses than
violent ofenses. After March 2020, the mean number of
persons released after serving time for violent ofenses
decreased by about 3 persons per month. Meanwhile,
the mean number of persons released after serving
time for nonviolent ofenses declined by 27 persons
per month. This pattern of admissions and releases
indicates that post-COVID-19 declines in the number
of persons in state prison for violent and nonviolent
ofenses were attributable to decreases in admissions.

Figure 4
Mean number of persons in the custody of state prisons in 37 states, by ofense type, month-end January
2018–December 2020
Mean number of prisoners

18,000
16,000
14,000
12,000
10,000
8,000
6,000
4,000
2,000
0

Start of COVID-19 pandemic

For violent o˜ense

..

For nonviolent o˜ense
----------------------

Jan
2018

May

Sep

awwwww•w•-•-•-•-•-•-•-••

'

Jan
2019

May

Sep

Jan
2020

-----------May

Sep

Dec
2020

Note: Data are based on the 37 states that submitted National Corrections Reporting Program data from 2018 to 2020. For March 2020, data
are shown for the beginning and the end of the month. See Methodology for discussion of analysis and ofense types. See appendix table 5
for estimates.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Corrections Reporting Program, 2018–2020.

Figure 5
Mean number of persons released from state prisons in 37 states, by ofense type, January 2018–December 2020
Mean number of releases
Start of COVID-19 pandemic
800
For nonviolent o˜ense
700 ···-·--·--··--·--·-·--·--··--·--·-·--·--··--·--·-·--·--··-··-··-·--·--··--·--•i
600
500
400
300
For violent o˜ense
200
100
0
Jan
May
Sep
Jan
May
Sep
Jan
May
2018
2019
2020

:··------- --------...

Sep

Note: Data are based on the 37 states that submitted National Corrections Reporting Program data from 2018 to 2020. For March 2020, data
are shown for the beginning and the end of the month. See Methodology for discussion of analysis and ofense types. See appendix table 6
for estimates.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Corrections Reporting Program, 2018–2020.

Dec
2020

State and federal prisons administered 4.8 million
viral COVID-19 tests to prisoners over the study
period

COVID-19 virus and are considered less reliable than
polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for detection of
the disease.

State DOC and BOP policies for testing prisoners for
COVID-19 infection varied across jurisdictions and
over time within jurisdictions. Some states chose to
limit testing to prisoners who were symptomatic, while
other states tested all prisoners in custody and captured
both symptomatic and asymptomatic cases.

During the 12 months from March 2020 to February
2021, state DOCs and the BOP administered 4,816,400
COVID-19 tests to persons in their custody or held
in privately operated prisons (table 5). California
performed 1,116,800 tests on prisoners during that
period, or 23% of all tests of prisoners. Michigan
performed 563,200, accounting for 12% of all
COVID-19 tests of prisoners. The BOP conducted
400,900 tests on the federal prison population.

The NPS-CPan asked state DOCs and the BOP to
report the total number of COVID-19 tests performed
on prisoners in the 12 months from March 2020 to
February 2021. BJS also requested the number of tests
performed during that time period that showed a
positive result for COVID-19, and because a person
could have multiple positive tests, the number of
unique persons who tested positive for COVID-19
while in custody. States and the BOP were asked to
exclude results of antibody or serology tests, which
measure antibodies produced in response to the

State DOCs and the BOP reported a total of 396,300
positive tests from the beginning of March 2020 to
the end of February 2021, a test positivity rate of 8.2
per 100 tests (persons could test positive more than
once). The three jurisdictions with the largest prison
populations also had the most positive tests: California
(58,900), the BOP (47,900), and Texas (30,100).

Table 5
Number of COVID-19 tests and test positivity rate among persons in the custody of state and federal prisons, by
jurisdiction, March 1, 2020–February 28, 2021
Jurisdiction
U.S. totalb
Federalc,d
Stateb
Alabamae
Alaskaf
Arizonag
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticutf
Delawaref,h
Floridae
Georgia
Hawaiif,i
Idaho
Illinoisj
Indianae
Iowa
Kansas
Kentuckyi
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts

Number of tests of prisoners, Number of positive tests,
Mar 1, 2020–Feb 28, 2021a
Mar 1, 2020–Feb 28, 2021a
4,816,411
396,320
400,883
47,873
4,415,528
348,447
15,129
1,527
27,197
2,650
70,112
12,058
57,706
11,436
1,116,763
58,857
174,029
8,998
100,619
6,795
13,004
2,015
87,694
17,334
35,240
3,625
12,143
1,272
25,510
4,198
326,538
10,714
16,639
3,289
41,247
4,879
41,166
6,403
32,171
7,145
22,140
3,376
7,216
284
57,927
4,327
29,822
2,814

Test positivity rate
per 100 tests
8.2
:
7.9
10.1
9.7
17.2
19.8
5.3
5.2
6.8
15.5
19.8
10.3
10.5
16.5
3.3
19.8
11.8
15.6
22.2
15.2
3.9
7.5
9.4

Number of unique prisoners
with a positive test,
Mar 1, 2020–Feb 28, 2021
374,437
54,029
320,408
1,527
2,330
12,058
11,428
49,325
8,657
4,106
2,015
17,208
3,610
1,272
3,961
10,700
3,289
4,743
5,774
7,145
3,168
156
4,194
2,558

Continued on next page
IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON STATE AND FEDERAL PRISONS, MARCH 2020–FEBRUARY 2021 | AUGUST 2022

12

Table 5 (continued)
Number of COVID-19 tests and test positivity rate among persons in the custody of state and federal prisons, by
jurisdiction, March 1, 2020–February 28, 2021
Jurisdiction
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevadae
New Hampshirei
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregoni
Pennsylvania
Rhode Islandf
South Carolina
South Dakotae
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermontf
Virginiai
Washington
West Virginiai
Wisconsin
Wyoming

Number of tests of prisoners, Number of positive tests,
Mar 1, 2020–Feb 28, 2021a
Mar 1, 2020–Feb 28, 2021a
29,049
563,241
97,874
4,122
3,861
1,399
/
/
10,071
1,460
6,719
1,510
30,681
4,510
1,485
449
252,052
4,340
37,683
3,760
74,209
5,994
109,974
10,508
27,062
608
61,858
9,565
28,884
7,173
24,814
3,542
90,181
13,116
/
/
32,282
4,568
7,488
2,339
38,659
6,587
308,194
30,128
22,416
1,100
14,871
196
92,976
8,988
49,632
6,241
9,661
1,553
91,915
10,860
16,773
786

Test positivity rate
per 100 tests
5.2
4.2
36.2
:
14.5
22.5
14.7
30.2
1.7
10.0
8.1
9.6
2.2
15.5
24.8
14.3
14.5
:
14.2
31.2
17.0
9.8
4.9
1.3
9.7
12.6
16.1
11.8
4.7

Number of unique prisoners
with a positive test,
Mar 1, 2020–Feb 28, 2021
25,018
3,852
1,358
/
1,445
584
4,510
449
3,055
2,868
5,885
9,691
608
9,526
7,168
3,542
10,251
1,147
3,161
2,336
6,113
29,367
1,047
114
8,988
6,175
1,553
10,597
776

Note: Includes viral (polymerase chain reaction) COVID-19 tests among persons held for state or federal correctional authorities in governmentoperated and privately operated prisons, regardless of sentence status or length. Excludes antibody or serology tests and tests of prisoners held
in local jails on behalf of state or federal correctional authorities. Individual prisoners could be tested more than once. Test positivity rates are per
100 tests administered and should not be compared between jurisdictions due to wide variation in testing practices. Jurisdictions that performed
tests on most or all prisoners could identify asymptomatic and negative COVID-19 cases, while jurisdictions that tested persons only after the onset of
symptoms could not.
:Not calculated.
/Not reported.
aCounts do not represent the number of unique prisoners who tested positive for COVID-19, unless otherwise noted. Prisoners could have multiple
tests or multiple positive tests.
bTotals exclude Missouri, which did not submit data to the National Prisoner Statistics program – Coronavirus Pandemic Supplemental Survey.
cExcludes counts from privately operated prisons under federal contract.
dFederal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) counts for total tests administered and total positive tests exclude results from laboratories not under federal
contract. The count of unique prisoners who tested positive for COVID-19 includes results from laboratories under and not under federal contract. The
positivity rate was not calculated for the BOP due to the differences in populations for the numerator and denominator.
eState department of corrections (DOC) confirmed that prisoners who tested positive for COVID-19 were tested only once.
fPrisons and jails form one integrated system. Data include both prison and jail populations.
gState could not report the total number of positive tests. Number of unique prisoners who tested positive for COVID-19 was allocated as the total
number of positive tests.
hCounts represent COVID-19 tests performed from April 1, 2020 to April 1, 2021. The state DOC confirmed that prisoners who tested positive for
COVID-19 were tested only once.
iState could not report the number of unique prisoners who tested positive for COVID-19. Total number of positive tests was allocated as the number
of unique prisoners who tested positive for COVID-19.
jState could not report the number of unique prisoners who tested positive for COVID-19. Data were taken from the February 28, 2021 entry in the
University of North Carolina Health and Justice Research Lab’s COVID Prison Project database, which scraped data posted on DOC websites and is
archived at https://github.com/healthandjustice/covid-prison-project.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Prisoner Statistics program – Coronavirus Pandemic Supplemental Survey, 2021.

IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON STATE AND FEDERAL PRISONS, MARCH 2020–FEBRUARY 2021 | AUGUST 2022

13

The test positivity rate indicates differences in testing
policies across jurisdictions. A larger denominator
would be used for rates in states that repeatedly tested
all of their prisoners, while a smaller denominator
would be used to calculate rates in states that tested a
subset of prisoners, such as those showing symptoms
of COVID-19. Seven of the 10 states with the highest
test positivity rates performed fewer tests than the
number of persons in custody during some part of
the COVID-19 study period (indicated that not all
prisoners in custody received a COVID-19 test):
Mississippi, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Nebraska,
Kentucky, Indiana, and Florida. Three additional states
(Alabama, Alaska, and Georgia) performed fewer
tests than the total number of persons in their custody
during the COVID-19 study period, but each had a
lower test positivity rate of about 10 per 100 tests.

conducted 14,900 tests on the 3,600 prisoners in its
custody during the COVID-19 study period, had the
lowest test positivity rate of all states (1.3 per 100),
followed by New Jersey (1.7 per 100), which performed
252,100 tests on the 21,000 persons in its custody.
The 396,300 positive tests in the state DOCs and the
BOP represented 374,400 unique prisoners, indicating
that in most jurisdictions, a single positive test result
was used to determine who had COVID-19. The
BOP had the most unique persons in custody testing
positive (54,000) during the COVID-19 study period.
California had the largest number of unique persons
testing positive while in the custody of state prisons or
private prisons under state contract (49,300 persons),
followed by Texas (29,400) and Michigan (25,000).

In comparison, most states that performed more
tests than the number of prisoners in their custody
(indicating most or all of their prisoners were tested at
least once) had lower positivity rates. Vermont, which

IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON STATE AND FEDERAL PRISONS, MARCH 2020–FEBRUARY 2021 | AUGUST 2022

14

The majority of states suspended prisoners’
family visitation and educational programming
at some point in the COVID-19 study period to
mitigate transmission
To mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in state and
federal prisons, state DOCs and the BOP introduced
new policies in their facilities and in private facilities
contracted to the jurisdiction. Respondents to the
NPS-CPan survey indicated whether certain policies
were implemented in all, some (at least one), or none
of the government-operated and privately operated
prisons at any time between March 2020 and February
2021.
All responding jurisdictions isolated or quarantined
prisoners with COVID-19 symptoms in every facility,
and 25 states imposed lockdowns of prisoners in their
cells in all facilities at some point from March 2020
to February 2021 (table 6). Forty-two states and the

BOP suspended all transfers of persons between their
prisons and local jails, and 39 states and the BOP
automatically quarantined new admissions to all
facilities. (See appendix tables 7 and 8 for jurisdictionlevel data.)
In-person family visitation was suspended at all
facilities in 48 states and the BOP in response to the
pandemic, and in-person legal visits were stopped at
all facilities in 34 states and the BOP. Correctional staff
had their temperatures checked before each shift at
all facilities in 48 states and the BOP. All jurisdictions
provided staff who worked in each facility with face
masks or gloves. Forty-eight states and the BOP also
provided face masks to prisoners in all facilities at
some point between the beginning of March 2020 and
the end of February 2021. Prior to release, prisoners
from all facilities in 31 states and the BOP were given a
COVID-19 test.

Table 6
Number of jurisdictions that adopted tactics to mitigate COVID-19 transmission in state and federal prisons, by
tactic, March 1, 2020–February 28, 2021
Mitigation tactic
All new prisoners tested at admission
Automatic quarantine of newly admitted prisoners
Lockdown of prisoners in cells
Daily temperature checks of prisoners
Staff temperature checks at start of shift
Isolation/quarantine of symptomatic prisoners
Enforced sick/administrative leave of symptomatic staff
Provision of hand sanitizer to prisoners
Provision of face masks to prisoners
Provision of face masks/gloves to staff
Viral testing of prisoners before release
Antibody/serology testing of staff
Antibody/serology testing of prisoners
Complete suspension of—
Transfers between prison and local jails
Educational programs
Drug/alcohol treatment programs
Prison labor programs
In-person family visitation
Legal visitation
Ministry/religious service programs

Number of jurisdictions that implemented tactic—
Not applicable/
In all facilities
In some facilities
In no facilities
known/reported
39
6
4
2
40
9
0
2
25
16
7
3
26
11
9
5
49
1
0
1
50
0
0
1
48
0
0
3
41
3
4
3
49
0
0
2
50
0
0
1
32
7
9
3
8
5
29
9
13
7
22
9
43
38
31
39
49
35
37

6
7
9
9
1
6
6

0
4
6
1
0
8
5

2
2
5
2
1
2
3

Note: Tactics were adopted at any time from March 1, 2020 to February 28, 2021 in none, some (at least one), or all government-operated and
privately operated prisons in each jurisdiction. See appendix tables 7 and 8 for jurisdiction-level data.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Prisoner Statistics program – Coronavirus Pandemic Supplemental Survey, 2021.

IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON STATE AND FEDERAL PRISONS, MARCH 2020–FEBRUARY 2021 | AUGUST 2022

15

COVID-19 infection and mortality rate calculations
Throughout the pandemic, researchers and the media
published a range of estimated COVID-19 infection
rates for persons in prison, using the mean monthly
prison population or the largest single-day population
count in 2020 as the denominators. This report presents
two alternative estimates for infection rates and
crude mortality rates in state and federal prisons that
represent improved measures of the prison population
and accurately reflect the flow of persons in and out
of prison. The first method uses as its denominator the
number of persons in custody on February 29, 2020
plus those admitted from March 2020 to February 2021.
This captures the total number of persons who were at
risk of exposure to COVID-19 in state and federal prisons
from the end of February 2020 to the end of February
2021. This method reflects the prison population
turnover caused by new admissions, particularly in
states with combined prison-jail systems where time
served in prison is often measured in days or weeks
instead of months or years.
The second method uses the exact number of days
that persons were at risk of exposure to COVID-19 in
prison as the denominator. This method was used for
the 36 states that reported 2020 National Corrections
Reporting Program (NCRP) data that aligned with the
monthly population, admission, and release counts in
the National Prisoner Statistics program – Coronavirus
Pandemic Supplemental Survey (NPS-CPan). This
denominator incorporates both population size and
time served during the pandemic and enables the
rate to be expressed per 100 prison-days of COVID-19

expsoure risk. This method represents the incidence of
COVID-19 infection during the NPS-CPan survey period.
The 36 states for which the prison-days rate could be
estimated represent about 81% of the persons in
custody in state-operated and privately operated
correctional facilities on December 31, 2020, as
reported to the National Prisoner Statistics program.3
Additionally, NCRP data consist of individual-level
records of every person convicted and sentenced to
serve time in state prison who were admitted and
released during a given calendar year and persons in
custody on December 31 of each year. Therefore, the
exact length of potential exposure for each prisoner in
days can be calculated and summed to obtain the total
time of expsoure risk to COVID-19 for prisoners in each
state. (See Methodology for a detailed description of the
prison-days denominator and appendix table 9 for the
denominators used for rates in this report.)
The rates presented in this report assume that the
risk of contracting COVID-19 was equal across all
months and states. Among U.S. residents not in prison,
COVID-19 infections increased and decreased in
waves across the country that could be documented
by epidemiologists, but the pattern of infections in
prison populations was less clear, particularly given the
various mitigation tactics employed at different times
by the state departments of corrections and the Federal
Bureau of Prisons.
3See Prisoners in 2020 – Statistical Tables (NCJ 302776, BJS,

December 2021) at https://bjs.ojp.gov/content/pub/pdf/
p20st.pdf.

IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON STATE AND FEDERAL PRISONS, MARCH 2020–FEBRUARY 2021 | AUGUST 2022

16

The infection rate for state prisoners was 219 per
1,000 prisoners at risk of exposure to COVID-19

prisoners at risk of exposure to COVID-19 while in
federal custody.

Nationally, the rate of COVID-19 infection in state and
federal prison through the end of February 2021 was
228 per 1,000 prisoners at risk of exposure while in
custody (table 7). Across all states, the infection rate
was 219 per 1,000 prisoners at risk of exposure while
in the custody of state correctional authorities. Based
on the total number of persons at risk, jurisdictionspecific infection rates ranged from 31 per 1,000
prisoners in Vermont to 579 per 1,000 in Michigan.
The BOP had an infection rate of 298 per 1,000

Because state DOCs and the BOP implemented a
variety of testing strategies, infection rates should
not be compared across jurisdictions. Prison systems
that tested all persons in custody would have higher
infection rates than jurisdictions that tested only persons
showing symptoms, because mass testing would also
capture asymptomatic cases of COVID-19. Differential
access to COVID-19 tests, particularly in the first few
months of the pandemic, also preclude comparisons
of jurisdictions. Infection rates of the imprisoned

Table 7
COVID-19 infection rate among persons in the custody of state and federal prisons, by jurisdiction, March 1, 2020–
February 28, 2021
Jurisdiction
U.S. totalc
Federald
Statec,e
Alabama
Alaskaf
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticutf
Delawaref,g
Florida
Georgia
Hawaiif,h
Idaho
Illinoisi
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentuckyh
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshireh
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York

Number of unique prisoners
who tested positive
374,437
54,029
320,408
1,527
2,330
12,058
11,428
49,325
8,657
4,106
2,015
17,208
3,610
1,272
3,961
10,700
3,289
4,743
5,774
7,145
3,168
156
4,194
2,558
25,018
3,852
1,358
/
1,445
584
4,510
449
3,055
2,868
5,885

Rate of prisoners who tested
positive per 1,000 prisoners
at risk of exposurea
227.8
298.0
219.0
64.2
80.2
226.0
488.8
369.4
359.3
189.0
158.0
161.9
58.5
112.6
315.4
223.8
100.9
384.3
448.1
207.5
184.3
57.8
138.3
239.0
579.5
309.4
73.6
:
150.2
73.3
274.5
137.0
145.4
328.7
120.0

Rate of prisoners who tested
positive per 100 prison-days
of exposure riskb
:
:
0.08
:
:
:
0.21
0.13
0.16
:
:
0.06
0.02
:
0.15
0.09
0.04
0.17
0.18
0.10
:
0.03
:
0.09
:
0.14
0.03
:
:
0.03
0.13
0.06
:
:
0.04

Continued on next page
IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON STATE AND FEDERAL PRISONS, MARCH 2020–FEBRUARY 2021 | AUGUST 2022

17

Table 7 (continued)
COVID-19 infection rate among persons in the custody of state and federal prisons, by jurisdiction, March 1, 2020–
February 28, 2021
Jurisdiction
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Islandf
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermontf
Virginiah
Washington
West Virginiah
Wisconsin
Wyoming

Number of unique prisoners
who tested positive
9,691
608
9,526
7,168
3,542
10,251
1,147
3,161
2,336
6,113
29,367
1,047
114
8,988
6,175
1,553
10,597
776

Rate of prisoners who tested
positive per 1,000 prisoners
at risk of exposurea
194.5
225.2
154.4
242.9
199.4
187.1
108.1
146.8
326.2
221.9
172.7
133.4
31.4
295.0
284.8
184.0
356.5
255.7

Rate of prisoners who tested
positive per 100 prison-days
of exposure riskb
0.08
0.13
0.06
0.09
0.07
0.07
:
0.06
0.15
0.09
0.07
0.07
0.02
0.11
0.11
0.11
0.13
0.13

Note: Includes positive results of viral (polymerase chain reaction) COVID-19 tests among persons held for state or federal correctional authorities in
government-operated and privately operated prisons, regardless of sentence status or length. Excludes results of antibody or serology tests and tests
of prisoners held in local jails on behalf of state or federal correctional authorities. See appendix table 9 for denominator data.
:Not calculated.
/Not reported.
aDenominator is the total number of persons in the custody of government-operated and privately operated prisons at any time from
February 29, 2020 to February 28, 2021 (i.e., the sum of persons in custody on February 29, 2020 and persons admitted each month from March 2020
to February 2021).
bRate is per 100 days in prison custody. Denominator is the sum of the number of days of exposure risk for all persons in the custody of governmentoperated and privately operated prisons from their date of admission or from the date of the first documented positive COVID-19 test among
prisoners in each jurisdiction (whichever is later), through their release date or through February 28, 2021 (whichever is earlier). Excludes states that
either did not submit 2020 National Corrections Reporting Program (NCRP) data, or submitted 2020 NCRP admission and release data that were
inconsistent with the aggregate counts provided by the same state in the National Prisoner Statistics program – Coronavirus Pandemic Supplemental
Survey (NPS-CPan). A total of 256,205 unique prisoners tested positive for COVID-19 among the 36 states that submitted comparable NCRP and NPSCPan data. See Methodology for details on the calculation of prison-days.
cTotals exclude Missouri, which did not submit data to the NPS-CPan.
dExcludes counts from privately operated prisons under federal contract.
eTotal for prison-days rates includes only the 36 states that submitted comparable 2020 NCRP and NPS-CPan data.
fPrisons and jails form one integrated system. Data include both prison and jail populations.
gCounts represent tests performed from April 1, 2020 to April 1, 2021.
hState could not report the number of unique prisoners who tested positive for COVID-19. Total number of positive tests was imputed as the number
of unique prisoners who tested positive for COVID-19.
iState could not report the number of unique prisoners who tested positive for COVID-19. Data were taken from the February 28, 2021 entry in the
COVID Prison Project database (https://github.com/healthandjustice/covid-prison-project).
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Corrections Reporting Program, 2020; and National Prisoner Statistics program – Coronavirus Pandemic
Supplemental Survey, 2021.

IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON STATE AND FEDERAL PRISONS, MARCH 2020–FEBRUARY 2021 | AUGUST 2022

18

and unimprisoned populations in the United States
also should not be compared due to differences
in distributions by sex, race or ethnicity, and age
distributions.
Among the 36 states for which a denominator of
prison-days of exposure risk could be calculated,
infection rates were much lower than rates based on
the number of prisoners who were at risk of exposure
to COVID-19, due to the larger denominator. (See
appendix table 9 for denominators.) From the beginning
of March 2020 to the end of February 2021, there
were 256,205 COVID-19 cases and 301,478,295 days
of exposure risk among prisoners in the 36 states.
Their combined infection rate was 0.08 cases per
100 prison-days, or 1 infection for every 1,177 days
in custody of state prisons.
Generally, the 36 states’ infection-rate rankings were
consistent between the two calculations (see text
box on page 15). For example, all infection rates in
Vermont state prisons were among the lowest of the
36 states, regardless of the denominator. Likewise,
Arkansas had the highest infection rate using both the
total number of prisoners at risk of exposure and the
prison-days denominators.
There were some exceptions. Because California
had one of the largest prison populations among
the 36 states and ranked third in the mean number
of days in custody per prisoner, the prison-days
denominator was larger than in other states and
resulted in a relatively lower infection rate. Three states
had higher infection rates than California based on
the total number of prisoners at risk of exposure, and
this increased to nine states when using the prisondays denominator. Similarly, Utah’s population of
approximately 8,700 and its mean number of days
served per prisoner were lower than for most of the
other 35 states. This resulted in a rate of 0.07 infections
per 100 prison-days, which was higher than the rate
that excluded time in custody. Twenty-eight states had
higher rates of infection per number of prisoners who
were at risk of exposure than Utah, while 21 had higher
infection rates per 100 prison-days in custody.

White and black prisoners accounted for
two-thirds of all COVID-19 infections
Survey respondents were asked to report the number
of unique prisoners who tested positive for COVID-19
while in custody by sex and race or ethnicity. Eight
states (representing 33,700 infected prisoners or 9% of
the total) could not do so by sex, and nine states (with
37,500 or 10% of infected prisoners) could not do so by
race or ethnicity.
Based on available data from March 2020 to February
2021, about 86% of the 374,400 infected prisoners were
male (321,300) and slightly more than 5% were female
(19,500) (table 8). Thirty-seven percent of persons in
prison who tested positive were white, 30% were black,
Table 8
COVID-19 infections among persons in the custody
of state and federal prisons, by demographic
characteristics, March 1, 2020–February 28, 2021
Demographic characteristic
Sex
Male
Female
Not reported
Race/ethnicity
White*
Black*
Hispanic
American Indian/Alaska Native*
Asian/Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander*
Two or more races*
Other race*
Not reported

Infections
Number Percent
374,437
100%
321,315
85.8
19,471
5.2
33,651
9.0
374,437
100%
137,757
36.8
113,603
30.3
69,754
18.6
8,823
2.4
3,575
1.0
316
0.1
3,104
0.8
37,505
10.0

Note: Includes positive results of viral (polymerase chain reaction)
COVID-19 tests among persons held for state or federal correctional
authorities in government-operated and privately operated prisons,
regardless of sentence status or length. Excludes results of antibody or
serology tests and tests of prisoners held in local jails on behalf of state
or federal correctional authorities. Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri,
New Hampshire, Oregon, West Virginia, and Virginia could not report sex
for prisoners who tested positive. Those eight states and Alabama could
not report race or ethnicity for prisoners who tested positive.
*Excludes persons of Hispanic origin (e.g., “white” refers to non-Hispanic
white persons and “black” refers to non-Hispanic black persons).
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Prisoner Statistics program
– Coronavirus Pandemic Supplemental Survey, 2021.

IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON STATE AND FEDERAL PRISONS, MARCH 2020–FEBRUARY 2021 | AUGUST 2022

19

and nearly 19% were Hispanic. American Indians
and Alaska Natives accounted for more than 2% of
persons in prison infected with COVID-19, while
Asians, Native Hawaiians, and Other Pacific Islanders
accounted for 1%.

The crude mortality rate for COVID-19 was
1.5 deaths per 1,000 prisoners
State DOCs and the BOP reported almost 2,500 deaths
of prisoners from the beginning of March 2020 to the
end of February 2021 where COVID-19 was suspected
or confirmed as the cause or a significant contributing
factor (table 9). Jurisdictions with the largest prison

Table 9
Number of COVID-19-related deaths and crude mortality rate among persons in the custody of state and federal
prisons, by sex and jurisdiction, March 1, 2020–February 28, 2021
Jurisdiction
U.S. totalc
Federald
Statec
Alabama
Alaskae
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticute
Delawaree
Florida
Georgia
Hawaiie
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi

Total
2,490
212
2,278
61
5
48
52
219
29
19
13
213
90
7
5
88
30
19
15
48
35
^
28
20
136
11
23

Male
2,420
205
2,215
^^
5
48
^^
^^
29
19
13
206
^^
7
5
^^
30
19
15
48
^^
^
28
20
132
11
^^

Crude mortality
rate per 1,000
Female prisonersa,b
58
1.5
7
1.2
51
1.6
^^
2.6
0
0.2
0
0.9
^^
2.2
^^
1.6
0
1.2
0
0.9
0
1.0
7
2.0
^^
1.5
0
0.6
0
0.4
^^
1.8
0
0.9
0
1.5
0
1.2
0
1.4
^^
2.0
^
:
0
0.9
0
1.9
4
3.2
0
0.9
^^
1.2

Jurisdiction
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Islande
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermonte
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming

Total
/
5
6
49
^
52
28
33
53
^
134
48
42
125
^
40
7
42
255
18
0
55
13
18
32
^

Male
/
5
6
49
^
^^
28
^^
48
^
134
^^
/
^^
^
40
7
^^
245
18
0
^^
13
18
^^
^

Crude mortality
rate per 1,000
Female prisonersa,b
/
:
0
0.5
0
0.8
0
3.0
^
0.6
^^
2.5
0
3.2
^^
0.7
5
1.1
^
0.4
0
2.2
^^
1.6
/
2.4
^^
2.3
^
:
0
1.9
0
1.0
^^
1.5
10
1.5
0
2.3
0
0.0
^^
1.8
0
0.6
0
2.1
^^
1.1
^
:

Note: Includes COVID-19-related deaths of persons held for state or federal correctional authorities in government-operated and privately operated
prisons, regardless of sentence status or length. Excludes prisoners held in local jails on behalf of state or federal correctional authorities. Includes all
deaths where COVID-19 was suspected or confirmed as the cause or a significant contributing factor. Estimates will differ from previously published
statistics. Not all jurisdictions could report the sex of persons who died in their custody as a result of COVID-19.
:Not calculated.
/Not reported.
^Three or fewer deaths.
^^One of the sex-specific estimates includes three or fewer deaths. Both estimates were suppressed to protect confidentiality.
aPer 1,000 prisoners at risk of exposure to COVID-19 from March 1, 2020 to February 28, 2021 while in custody.
bDenominator is the total number of persons in the custody of government-operated and privately operated prisons at any time from February
29, 2020 to February 28, 2021 (i.e., the sum of persons in custody on February 29, 2020 and persons admitted each month from March 2020
to February 2021).
cTotals exclude Missouri, which did not submit data to the National Prisoner Statistics program – Coronavirus Pandemic Supplemental Survey.
dExcludes counts from privately operated prisons under federal contract.
ePrisons and jails form one integrated system. Data include both prison and jail populations.
Sources: Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Corrections Reporting Program, 2020; and National Prisoner Statistics program – Coronavirus Pandemic
Supplemental Survey, 2021.

IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON STATE AND FEDERAL PRISONS, MARCH 2020–FEBRUARY 2021 | AUGUST 2022

20

populations had the largest number of such deaths.
Texas had the most COVID-19-related deaths (255),
followed by California (219), Florida (213), and the
BOP (212). Texas also had the largest number of
COVID-19-related deaths among female prisoners
(10).
Nationally, the crude mortality rate was 1.5 COVID19-related deaths per 1,000 state and federal prisoners,
based on the total number of prisoners at risk of
exposure to COVID-19 during the 12-month period
between March 2020 and February 2021. Michigan and
New Mexico had the highest mortality rates (3.2 deaths
per 1,000 prisoners), followed by Nevada (3.0 per 1,000)
and Alabama (2.6 per 1,000).
Less than 10% of COVID-19-related deaths
occurred in prisoners less than 44 years of age
Males accounted for 97% of COVID-19-related deaths
in prisons (table 10). Forty-four percent of those who
died as a result of COVID-19 in state or federal prison
were white, 34% were black, 14% were Hispanic, and
2% were American Indian or Alaska Native. Eightythree percent of persons who died in state or federal
prison as a result of COVID-19 were age 55 or older,
and 16% were age 75 or older. Persons ages 45 to 54
accounted for about 11% of COVID-19-related deaths
in prison, and those ages 35 to 44 accounted for 4%.

Table 10
COVID-19-related deaths of persons in the custody
of state and federal prisons, by demographic
characteristics, March 1, 2020–February 28, 2021
Demographic characteristic
Sex
Male
Female
Not reported
Race/ethnicity
White*
Black*
Hispanic
American Indian/Alaska Native*
Asian/Native Hawaiian/Other
Pacific Islander*
Two or more races*
Other race*
Not reported
Age at death
24 or younger
25–34
35–44
45–54
55–64
65–74
75 or older
Not reported

Deaths
Number
Percent
2,490
100%
2,420
97.2
58
2.3
12
0.5
2,490
100%
1,095
44.0
840
33.7
349
14.0
53
2.1
19
0
17
117
2,490
^
20
104
268
815
857
406
^^

0.8
0.0
0.7
4.7
100%
:
0.8
4.2
10.8
32.7
34.4
16.3
:

Note: Details may not sum to totals due to rounding. Includes
COVID-19-related deaths of persons held for state or federal correctional
authorities in government-operated and privately operated prisons,
regardless of sentence status or length. Excludes prisoners held in local
jails on behalf of state or federal correctional authorities. Includes all
deaths where COVID-19 was suspected or confirmed as the cause or
a significant contributing factor. Estimates will differ from previously
published statistics. Missouri and Oregon did not report the sex, race or
ethnicity, or age distribution of persons who died in their custody as a
result of COVID-19. In addition, Hawaii did not report their decedents’
race or ethnicity or age, and Alabama did not report decedents’ race or
ethnicity.
:Not calculated.
^10 or fewer deaths.
^^Estimate suppressed to protect confidentiality.
*Excludes persons of Hispanic origin (e.g., “white” refers to non-Hispanic
white persons and “black” refers to non-Hispanic black persons).
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Prisoner Statistics program
– Coronavirus Pandemic Supplemental Survey, 2021.

IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON STATE AND FEDERAL PRISONS, MARCH 2020–FEBRUARY 2021 | AUGUST 2022

21

Jurisdictions vaccinated 119,000 staff and 126,000
prisoners from December 2020 to February 2021
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved
the first COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use on
December 11, 2020. Five state DOCs (Alabama,
Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, and South Carolina)
did not receive COVID-19 vaccines before the
NPS-CPan survey ended at the end of February 2021
(table 11). Other states’ DOCs and the BOP had access
to vaccines for staff and prisoners for 6 to 74 days

before the survey ended, with a median of 51 days. By
the end of February 2021, state DOCs and the BOP
had given at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine
to 126,300 prisoners and 119,200 staff in correctional
facilities.
Six state DOCs that had access to vaccines before
the end of February 2021 had administered them to
correctional staff but not to prisoners by that date
(Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Maine, Tennessee,
and West Virginia). Five states (Alaska, Michigan,

Table 11
COVID-19 vaccine availability and administration to staff and persons in the custody of state and federal prisons,
by jurisdiction, through February 28, 2021
Jurisdiction
U.S. totalc
Federald
Statec
Alabamae
Alaskaf
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticutf
Delawaref
Floridae
Georgia
Hawaiif
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentuckye
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippie

Number of days
vaccine was
Number of staff
availablea
vaccinatedb
~
119,217
74
17,131
~
102,086
0
~
72
0
43
2,610
54
207
67
26,270
68
639
51
2,476
54
1,056
0
~
44
680
67
743
26
297
11
1,145
10
2,036
52
1,208
19
2,324
0
~
54
676
39
578
53
4,011
41
2,885
32
0
59
384
0
~

Number of
prisoners
vaccinatedb
126,299
18,795
107,504
~
1,436
0
0
39,476
2,661
1,031
137
~
14
284
103
5,292
/
206
2,407
~
621
0
751
4,379
4,801
836
~

Number of days
vaccine was
Number of staff
Jurisdiction
availablea
vaccinatedb
g
Missouri
/
/
Montana
54
203
Nebraska
51
428
Nevada
53
1,030
New Hampshire
67
468
New Jersey
62
2,985
New Mexico
74
1,527
New York
23
7,439
North Carolina
39
7,172
North Dakota
6
450
Ohio
60
5,922
Oklahoma
51
0
Oregon
62
/
Pennsylvania
12
609
Rhode Islandf
64
909
South Carolinae
0
~
South Dakota
26
0
Tennessee
33
1,546
Texas
61
7,570
Utah
34
750
Vermontf
32
~
Virginia
53
5,667
Washington
62
2,947
West Virginia
69
1,830
Wisconsin
46
2,235
Wyoming
53
174

Number of
prisoners
vaccinatedb
/
570
291
^
385
3,545
601
822
3,005
979
8,910
11
/
1,300
1,408
~
1,736
0
707
2,687
17
14,680
506
0
599
300

Note: Includes persons held for state or federal correctional authorities in government-operated or privately operated prisons, regardless of sentence
status or length, and staff working in those facilities. Excludes prisoners held in local jails on behalf of state or federal correctional authorities, and staff
working in those facilities.
~Not applicable.
/Not reported.
^10 or fewer persons vaccinated.
aDifference between the date a COVID-19 vaccine was made available to the state department of corrections (DOC) and February 28, 2021.
bNumber of unique persons who received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by February 28, 2021.
cTotals exclude Missouri, which did not submit data to the National Prisoner Statistics program – Coronavirus Pandemic Supplemental Survey.
dExcludes counts from privately operated prisons under federal contract.
eState DOC did not receive the COVID-19 vaccine by February 28, 2021.
fPrisons and jails form one integrated system. Data include both prison and jail populations.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Prisoner Statistics program – Coronavirus Pandemic Supplemental Survey, 2021.

IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON STATE AND FEDERAL PRISONS, MARCH 2020–FEBRUARY 2021 | AUGUST 2022

22

Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Vermont) vaccinated
some prisoners but no staff by the end of the
NPS-CPan survey period. The California Department
of Corrections and Rehabilitation gave at least
one dose of the vaccine to 65,700 prisoners and
correctional staff after being issued vaccines starting on
December 23, 2020. California accounted for almost
27% of all vaccinations in prison settings through
the end of February 2021. Other jurisdictions that
administered more than 10,000 vaccinations to prisoners
and staff were the BOP (35,900), Virginia (20,300), Ohio
(14,800), and North Carolina (10,200).

Seven states adopted a policy to vaccinate correctional
staff before prisoners, although not all of these states
appeared to follow this policy (table 12). (See appendix
table 10 for jurisdiction-level data.) No jurisdiction
required staff or prisoners to get the vaccine, but 15
states offered prisoners incentives to do so, such as
additional family visits, free phone calls, or money
added to their canteen account. In 40 states and the
BOP, vaccination policies prioritized older prisoners
over younger ones and prisoners with infectious or
chronic conditions over those who did not have these
risk factors. Four states had a policy to prioritize
vaccination for soon-to-be released prisoners, and four
emphasized vaccinations of newly admitted prisoners.

Table 12
Number of jurisdictions that adopted COVID-19 vaccine distribution policies, through February 28, 2021
Vaccine distribution policy
All staff vaccinated before prisoners
All prisoners required to get vaccine
Prisoners allowed to opt out of vaccination
All staff required to get vaccine
Staff allowed to opt out of vaccination
Older prisoners prioritized over younger prisoners
Prisoners with chronic/other infectious diseases
prioritized over healthy prisoners
Prisoners soon to be released prioritized for vaccination
Newly admitted prisoners prioritized for vaccination
Prisoners offered incentives to get vaccine

Number of jurisdictions
that adopted policy
7
0
49
0
47
41

Number of jurisdictions
that did not adopt policy
42
49
0
50
0
9

41
4
4
15

9
42
43
32

Number of jurisdictions
for which policy was
not applicable/reported
2
2
2
1
4
1
1
5
4
4

Note: Includes COVID-19 vaccine distribution policies adopted by state and federal correctional authorities in government-operated and privately
operated prisons. See appendix table 10 for jurisdiction-level data.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Prisoner Statistics program – Coronavirus Pandemic Supplemental Survey, 2021.

IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON STATE AND FEDERAL PRISONS, MARCH 2020–FEBRUARY 2021 | AUGUST 2022

23

Almost 200 prison staff died as a result of
COVID-19 over the study period
At the end of February 2021, state DOCs employed
325,300 correctional staff in state-operated prison
facilities (table 13). The BOP employed 35,000 staff
in federally operated prison facilities. The NPSCPan survey asked respondents to report COVID-19
infections and COVID-19-related deaths of correctional
staff regardless of where they may have contracted
the virus. More than 94,100 staff tested positive for
COVID-19 at least once from March 2020 to February
2021, a rate of 261 per 1,000 correctional staff in stateoperated and federally operated prisons. New Mexico
reported the highest infection rate among correctional
staff, with almost two-thirds (647 per 1,000) testing
positive at least once during the study period. Other

states with infection rates exceeding 400 per 1,000 were
Utah (475 per 1,000 staff), Delaware (449 per 1,000),
and North Dakota (440 per 1,000). The states with the
lowest infection rates were Kansas (8 per 1,000 staff)
and Maine (58 per 1,000).
Nationally, 196 correctional employees in stateoperated or federally operated facilities died from the
beginning of March 2020 to the end of February 2021
as a result of COVID-19, a crude mortality rate of
0.5 deaths per 1,000 staff. The Texas Department of
Criminal Justice reported 41 COVID-19-related staff
deaths during that period, and California reported 26.
Four staff at BOP-operated facilities died as a result
of COVID-19, resulting in a crude mortality rate of
0.1 per 1,000.

Table 13
Number of COVID-19 infections, test positivity rate, number of COVID-19-related deaths, and crude mortality rate
among correctional staff in state and federal prisons, by jurisdiction, March 1, 2020–February 28, 2021
Jurisdiction
U.S. totalc
Federal
Statec
Alabama
Alaskad
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticutd
Delawared
Florida
Georgia
Hawaiid
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missourie
Montana
Nebraska

Total staff,
Feb 28, 2021
360,314
34,979
325,335
3,179
1,543
8,000
5,215
55,207
5,810
6,010
1,705
17,597
6,654
1,269
1,355
11,398
5,846
2,435
3,276
3,138
4,719
981
6,191
3,726
9,120
3,657
995
/
898
1,829

Number of staff who
tested positive,
Test positivity
Mar 1, 2020–Feb 28, 2021a rate per 1,000 staff
94,122
261.2
6,574
187.9
87,548
269.1
..
:
/
:
2,535
316.9
952
182.6
14,977
271.3
1,402
241.3
1,541
256.4
765
448.7
5,167
293.6
1,471
221.1
208
163.9
379
279.7
4,130
362.3
1,622
277.5
698
286.7
26
7.9
1,034
329.5
1,104
233.9
57
58.1
1,769
285.7
1,030
276.4
3,298
361.6
1,077
294.5
205
206.0
2,188
:
232
258.4
538
294.1

Number of
staff deathsb
196
4
192
^
/
6
4
26
0
0
^
6
4
0
0
^
4
^
5
5
6
0
4
0
5
0
^
6
0
0

Crude mortality
rate per 1,000 staffb
0.5
0.1
0.6
0.9
:
0.8
0.8
0.5
0.0
0.0
0.6
0.3
0.6
0.0
0.0
0.1
0.7
0.8
1.5
1.6
1.3
0.0
0.6
0.0
0.5
0.0
2.0
:
0.0
0.0

Continued on next page
IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON STATE AND FEDERAL PRISONS, MARCH 2020–FEBRUARY 2021 | AUGUST 2022

24

Table 13 (continued)
Number of COVID-19 infections, test positivity rate, number of COVID-19-related deaths, and crude mortality rate
among correctional staff in state and federal prisons, by jurisdiction, March 1, 2020–February 28, 2021
Jurisdiction
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Islandd
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermontd
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming

Total staff,
Feb 28, 2021
2,571
613
6,933
1,434
24,241
13,783
713
13,799
3,213
4,500
13,840
1,048
3,558
812
6,042
27,183
840
591
8,636
8,774
2,964
6,647
847

Number of staff who
tested positive,
Test positivity
Mar 1, 2020–Feb 28, 2021a rate per 1,000 staff
969
376.9
173
282.2
2,438
351.7
928
647.1
4,455
183.8
3,405
247.0
314
440.4
4,917
356.3
/
:
830
184.4
3,399
245.6
324
309.2
1,048
294.5
186
229.1
1,858
307.5
344.9
9,375
399
475.0
62
104.9
2,268
262.6
1,124
128.1
454
153.2
2,104
316.5
301
355.4

Number of
staff deathsb
^
0
/
^
8
13
^
10
/
^
6
^
^
0
10
41
0
0
5
^
^
0
0

Crude mortality
rate per 1,000 staffb
1.2
0.0
0.0
1.4
0.3
0.9
1.4
0.7
:
0.4
0.4
1.0
0.6
0.0
1.7
1.5
0.0
0.0
0.6
0.2
0.7
0.0
0.0

Note: Includes correctional officers, health care workers, janitorial staff, and any other paid personnel who had contact with prisoners or worked
inside a state-operated or federally operated correctional facility. Excludes staff employed in private prisons under state or federal contract and
staff in state departments of corrections who did not enter a correctional facility as part of their employment. Estimates will differ from previously
published statistics.
..Not known.
:Not calculated.
/Not reported.
^Three or fewer deaths.
aIncludes staff who tested positive for COVID-19 through a viral (polymerase chain reaction) test at any point from March 1, 2020 to February 28, 2021,
regardless of where the infection or testing occurred.
bIncludes all deaths of staff where COVID-19 was suspected or confirmed as the cause or a significant contributing factor, regardless of where the
infection or death occurred.
cTotals exclude Missouri, which did not submit data to the National Prisoner Statistics program – Coronavirus Pandemic Supplemental Survey.
dPrisons and jails form one integrated system. Data include both prison and jail populations.
eData on the total number of COVID-19-related deaths were taken from the March 1, 2021 entry in the COVID Prison Project database (https://github.
com/healthandjustice/covid-prison-project).
Sources: Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Prisoner Statistics program – Coronavirus Pandemic Supplemental Survey, 2021.

IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON STATE AND FEDERAL PRISONS, MARCH 2020–FEBRUARY 2021 | AUGUST 2022

25

Methodology
Data sources
National Prisoner Statistics program – Coronavirus
Pandemic Supplement
The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) initiated data
collection for the National Prisoner Statistics program
– Coronavirus Pandemic Supplement (NPS-CPan)
on April 5, 2021 with a requested response date of
June 14, 2021. Forty-eight states and the Federal
Bureau of Prisons (BOP) submitted data. (See
Nonresponding states.)
NPS-CPan respondents were asked to report on
persons held in the custody of prisons operated by
states, the BOP, or private companies under state
or federal contract, but to exclude persons held in
local jails because their COVID-19 test and infection
counts were collected in BJS’s Annual Survey of
Jails and Census of Jails. In the NPS-CPan survey,
prison facilities included prisons, penitentiaries, and
correctional institutions; boot camps; prison farms;
reception, diagnostic, and classification centers;
release centers, halfway houses, and road camps;
forestry and conservation camps; vocational training
facilities; prison hospitals; and drug and alcohol
treatment facilities.
NPS-CPan survey questions about COVID-19 tests
were limited to viral or polymerase chain reaction
(PCR) nasal swab tests given to prisoners or staff to
measure viral load. Respondents were asked to exclude
antibody or serology tests from their counts because
these were considered less accurate. Due to the general
scarcity of viral tests at the beginning of the pandemic,
there was wide variation in testing practices among
state departments of corrections (DOCs), both across
jurisdictions and over time.
Nonresponding states
The Missouri DOC did not participate in the
NPS-CPan survey. The Oregon DOC attempted to
participate but could not release its data due to ongoing
litigation surrounding the state response to COVID-19
in prisons. Data for Oregon were obtained from its DOC
website (https://prod.oregon.gov/doc/covid19/Pages/
default.aspx), and BJS verified that the website’s custody
population, staff, testing, and mortality data matched
the NPS-CPan definitions and could be included in state
and national totals. Oregon’s 2020 monthly admissions
and releases were obtained from the state’s report to

the National Corrections Reporting Program (NCRP).
For January and February 2021, Oregon admissions
were imputed based on the previous monthly custody
population, minus the average of the releases in January
or February 2020 and in September, October, and
November 2020.
The BOP was unable to provide monthly counts of
admissions and the total count of releases during
the NPS-CPan survey period that met the survey’s
definitions. In addition, the BOP could not report on
the testing, infection, deaths, or policies in private
facilities under federal contract. BJS calculated
monthly admissions for the BOP by using monthly
BOP population counts from the NPS-CPan and
monthly release data on BOP-operated facilities from
the BOP website (https://www.bop.gov/about/statistics/
statistics_inmate_releases.jsp). Illinois could not report
the unique number of prisoners testing positive in
the NPS-CPan, and Missouri could not report the
number of COVID-19-related staff deaths. Since both
DOC websites showed only updated counts for these
statistics and did not make historical data available, BJS
used data scraped from state DOC websites at the time
they were initially posted by the University of North
Carolina Health and Justice Research Lab’s COVID
Prison Project, which is archived at: https://github.
com/healthandjustice/covid-prison-project.
National Corrections Reporting Program
The BJS NCRP is a voluntary data collection of
administrative records on individual prisoners that
are submitted annually by state DOCs. Since its
inception in 1983, the NCRP has collected records
for each prison admission, prison release, and exit
from post-custody community supervision programs
from a varying number of states each year. Starting in
1999, BJS requested that states submit an additional
file that included the administrative records of all
persons in state custody on December 31 of each year.
NCRP data include sex; race or ethnicity; date of birth;
sentence length; up to three offenses for which the
person was sentenced; and dates of prison admission,
scheduled or expected prison release, and actual release
(if applicable).
BJS used the 2020 NCRP data to calculate infection
and crude mortality rates based on the total number of
days that persons in state prison custody were at risk of
exposure to COVID-19. These estimates are available
only for states that provided NCRP prison release and
yearend custody population records for 2020. In total,

IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON STATE AND FEDERAL PRISONS, MARCH 2020–FEBRUARY 2021 | AUGUST 2022

26

46 states submitted such records. Arizona, Michigan,
New Jersey, and New Mexico did not submit NCRP
data for 2020. Prison-days rate calculations excluded
10 states whose NCRP data significantly differed from
their NPS-CPan release counts and December 31, 2020
custody populations: Alabama, Alaska, Connecticut,
Delaware, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri,
Montana, and Rhode Island.

Offense-specific group analyses were performed on the
outcome data. In each case, ITSA was applied to each
subgroup to estimate the four key coefficients. Violent
offenses for which state prisoners were sentenced
included murder, manslaughter, rape or sexual assault,
robbery, and simple or aggravated assault. All property,
drug, public order, and other offenses were classified as
nonviolent offenses.

BJS’s data collection agent for both the NPS-CPan
survey and NCRP used the 2018–2020 NCRP data
from 37 states to perform an interrupted time-series
analysis (ITSA).4 ITSA was used to compare monthend prison population, admission, and release counts.
All data in the figures and tables are linear estimates
produced by the ITSA procedure. NCRP data were
divided into pre- and post-intervention periods, with
the pandemic’s March 2020 onset used as the
intervention. The pre-intervention period was the 26
months prior to March 2020, and the post-intervention
period was the 10 months from March 2020 to
December 2020.

Calculated statistics

The ITSA procedure in this analysis produced four
key coefficient estimates: the starting level of the
variable (intercept), the linear trend of the variable
in the pre-intervention period (slope coefficient
pre-intervention), the change in the outcome level in the
month that the pandemic started (change in intercept,
positive or negative), and the change in the linear trend
coefficient from pre- to post-intervention (change in
intercept, positive or negative). All states in this analysis
experienced a change in at least one of the coefficients
for one of the outcomes after the pandemic’s onset.
Time series data typically include autocorrelated data.
For example, the preceding months of admissions were
correlated with admissions in the following months.
The Stata ITSA routine adjusted for autocorrelation,
and the trend coefficients were linear estimates.
Because the NCRP pre- and post-intervention periods
were relatively short, even if there were nonlinear
trends in the time series, the linear coefficients would
have captured a significant portion of their trajectory.
Inspection of the data showed that a linear trend
captured a significant component of the time series
variability in this study. The change in intercepts and
the trend lines shown in the figures are based on the
coefficients produced by the ITSA routine.
4See Linden, A. (2015). Conducting interrupted time-series analysis

for single- and multiple-group comparisons, The Stata Journal,
15(2), 480–500. https://doi.org/10.1177/1536867X1501500208.
See also McDowall, D., McCleary, R., Meidinger, E. E., & Hay,
R. A. (1980). Interrupted time series analysis. Sage. https://doi.
org/10.4135/9781412984607

Test positivity rate—This is calculated by dividing
the number of positive COVID-19 tests by the total
number of tests given. The rate is per 1,000 tests
administered. This measure does not correspond to
the unique number of prisoners who tested positive
for COVID-19 because prisoners could have multiple
positive tests. This measure also does not indicate the
severity of the outbreak in a particular jurisdiction
because state DOCs that tested all or large subsets
of their prison populations likely identified multiple
infected individuals with no external symptoms of
COVID-19. Jurisdictions that tested only symptomatic
prisoners or staff would miss asymptomatic individuals
and therefore have a higher test positivity rate.
Infection rate—Infection rates among imprisoned
and unimprisoned populations in the United States
should not be compared because their demographic
distributions differ significantly. The U.S. Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has
documented differences in infection rates by sex, race
or ethnicity, and age.
The infection rate is calculated as the number of
unique prisoners who tested positive for COVID-19
from March 1, 2020 to February 28, 2021, divided
by the total prison population. BJS employed two
methods of calculating the infection rate to provide
comparisons to other calculated rates and to present
rates using the same numerator with denominators of
differing precision:
„

Total prisoners at risk of exposure to COVID-19—
Assuming the risk for COVID-19 was equal across
all months, this method used as its denominator
the sum of persons in custody on February 29,
2020, plus all persons admitted from March 2020
to February 2021. The rate is per 1,000 persons
in prison. This method improves on rates that
use the mean and maximum monthly population
denominators by including persons newly admitted
after the pandemic began in the prison setting.

IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON STATE AND FEDERAL PRISONS, MARCH 2020–FEBRUARY 2021 | AUGUST 2022

27

However, as with all rates that use as a denominator
a count of prisoners, this method does not
incorporate length of risk exposure.

|

This method assumes that all persons (those already
in custody on February 29, 2020 and those admitted
later in 2020 and in early 2021) were at risk of
exposure for a full 12 months.
„

Prison-days—This second method refines the first
(total prisoners at risk of exposure) by accounting
for the length of prisoners’ COVID-19 exposure risk.
By taking time at risk of exposure into account, the
prison-days denominator does not make the same
assumption as rates based on counts of prisoners.
While some persons were imprisoned for the entire
year from March 2020 to February 2021, others
were admitted after March 2020 or released prior
to February 2021 and therefore had fewer days of
potential exposure to COVID-19 in prison. Using
data from 36 states that had reported 2020 yearend
custody population and release data to the NCRP,
BJS calculated potential exposure and actual time
served in days for prisoners in 2020 as follows:
|

|

|

The date of first documented infection in the state
correctional system was determined by searching
the state DOC website and local media for an
announcement that a prisoner had tested positive
for COVID-19.
The date of first documented infection in a
state prisoner was calculated as the positive test
date minus 6 days, because the CDC and most
state health departments have estimated that
COVID-19 exposure occurs 5 to 7 days before a
positive test.
The time at risk of exposure to COVID-19
was determined for state prisoners whose
NCRP records contained admission and actual,
projected, or scheduled release dates. The
potential exposure was calculated as the period
from the prisoner’s admission or first documented
infection (whichever was later) to the prisoner’s
release or February 28, 2021 (whichever
was earlier).

|

|

For prisoners in custody on December 31, 2020
with an admission date, the expected or
scheduled release date was imputed as the actual
release date (i.e., the end of the exposure risk
period) if it was prior to February 28, 2021.
Otherwise, prisoners were assumed to be in
custody on and have an ending exposure date of
February 28, 2021 (the end of the BJS study period).
Prisoners in custody on December 31, 2020
with an admission date but no actual, expected,
or scheduled release date were assumed to be
in custody on and have an ending date of risk
exposure of February 28, 2021.
For prisoners with no admission date, the
beginning risk exposure date was a random
integer between 0 and the number of days from
the state’s first documented infection, and the
ending exposure date was the actual, expected,
or scheduled release date or February 28, 2021
(whichever was earlier).

More than 90% of NCRP records in this analysis had
documented admission and release dates. Another 9%
of the records had an admission date but no release
date. These incomplete records were removed from
analysis to ensure they did not affect the infection
rate results. A comparison of this test output to the
full sample showed no change in the pattern of the
rates, but did show a decrease in the rates due to
the smaller denominator used in the test output.
Prison-days rates were expressed per 100 days in the
custody of state correctional facilities. The 256,205
infections in the 36 states over 301,478,295 days of
persons in custody resulted in a rate of 0.08 infections
per 100 days, or 1 infection for every 1,177 days
of custody.
Crude mortality rate—This is calculated as the number
of deaths from March 1, 2020 to February 28, 2021
where COVID-19 was either suspected or confirmed as
the cause of death or a significant contributing factor,
divided by the prison population. The rate is per 1,000
persons in prison. Crude mortality rates cannot be
compared between U.S. imprisoned and unimprisoned
populations due to their demographic differences.

IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON STATE AND FEDERAL PRISONS, MARCH 2020–FEBRUARY 2021 | AUGUST 2022

28

Jurisdiction notes
Alabama—The state department of corrections
(DOC) confirmed that no prisoner tested positive for
COVID-19 more than once.
Alaska—Alaska runs an integrated prison-and-jail
system for sentenced and unsentenced persons, with
many entering and exiting each day. As such, there
may be discrepancies in the flow of entries and exits
calculated. Staff vaccinations were performed but
not tracked, and the state DOC had no data on staff
infections or deaths.
Arizona—The state DOC could not report on the
number of positive COVID-19 tests, only the unique
number of positive prisoners. Due to multiple
sources for test data, the DOC used its local database
systems to record strictly unique positive cases per
prisoner. This was due to the mass testing the DOC
initiated at the beginning of the pandemic with a
different lab from the one normally used by its Health
Services contractor.
Arkansas—No notes were reported.
California—Population counts included prisoners
who had been temporarily absent for more than
30 days. California began its expedited release process
in April 2020.
Colorado—There was a slight discrepancy between
the February 29, 2020 prison population count and the
sum of the January 31, 2020 prison population and all
admissions minus all releases. Reported counts for the
number of unique prisoners who tested positive and
for staff who tested positive or died may differ slightly
from those reported on other public websites.
Connecticut—If the deceased prisoner did not have
an autopsy, the attending physician at the time of death
pronounced the cause of death.
Delaware—Data on COVID-19 tests covered April 1,
2020 to April 1, 2021. The state DOC tracked the
number of positive prisoners instead of the number
of positive tests but confirmed that fewer than five
prisoners tested positive more than once.
Federal Bureau of Prisons—All responses to the
National Prisoner Statistics – Coronavirus Pandemic
Supplemental Survey (NPS-CPan) covered facilities
managed by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP).
Counts of admissions included prison-to-prison
transfers and represented admissions rather than

unique persons admitted. The total count of releases
reflected the number of persons released at least once,
including prison-to-prison transfers. The BOP did not
report any expedited releases because sentencing is
the purview of the courts. While some prisoners did
receive a reduction in sentence during the NPS-CPan
survey period, the reasons for court actions were
not always provided and do not appear in the BOP’s
data systems.
Florida—Prisoners who tested positive for COVID-19
were rarely retested, so the number of positive tests
and unique prisoners who tested positive were
similar. Seven prisoners who tested positive had faulty
identification information, so their sex and race or
ethnicity data were not provided.
Georgia—Population counts reported to the
NPS-CPan survey reflected persons who had a physical
bed in a Georgia correctional facility, which differs
from counts reported to the National Prisoner Statistics
program (NPS-1B) collection. The state DOC could
not access information on the number of prisoner
deaths due to COVID-19 as determined by a medical
examiner or coroner.
Hawaii—Counts of COVID-19 deaths excluded the
coroner-evaluated deaths of two Native Hawaiian
males (one in the 55–64 age group and the other
75 or older) that occurred at the private Saguaro
Correctional Center in Arizona, which is contracted to
multiple jurisdictions besides Hawaii. Staff vaccination
counts were based on self-reports and excluded the
42 vaccinated staff at the Saguaro facility, where
vaccinations began on March 9, 2021.
Idaho—No notes were reported.
Illinois—The state DOC tested prisoners frequently,
resulting in a large number of reported tests. The DOC
could not report the number of unique prisoners who
tested positive. See the Methodology for how BJS
obtained this count.
Indiana—Indiana did not engage in expedited releases.
Any releases due to court modifications were done at
the court’s behest and were not specifically identified
as COVID-19-related. The state DOC confirmed that
the number of positive tests represented the number
of unique prisoners who tested positive. The number
of prisoners vaccinated as of February 28, 2021 could
not be determined. Vaccinations for newly admitted
prisoners were prioritized at state facilities dedicated
to prisoner intake. At other facilities, prisoners were
prioritized for vaccination based on risk.

IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON STATE AND FEDERAL PRISONS, MARCH 2020–FEBRUARY 2021 | AUGUST 2022

29

Iowa—Expedited releases were not solely based on the
decision of the governor or state DOC and required
parole board approval. Considerations were made to
help release individuals early during the pandemic, and
4,700 persons were released on an expedited basis but
not officially as a direct result of COVID-19.

New Jersey—Prisoners given expedited release were
placed on home confinement. The state DOC did
not track the number of staff who died as a result of
COVID-19.

Kansas—The state DOC had no data on the number of
persons who received expedited release.

New York—No notes were reported.

Kentucky—The state DOC reported the date that
vaccines were made available to prisoners.
Louisiana—As a criteria for expedited release, age was
considered not as a specific number but as a subjective
variable reflecting health status.
Maine—No notes were reported.
Maryland—Population counts included committed
detainees in the Baltimore City Detention Center or
the Baltimore Central Booking and Intake Center.
Massachusetts—The criteria for expedited release
included state DOC and court policies, although the
DOC was unclear how the courts used particular
policies in their decisions. Counts for vaccinated DOC
staff included only persons who received the first dose
from the DOC, not persons who were vaccinated in
the community.
Michigan—The state DOC did not track
staff vaccinations.
Minnesota—No notes were reported.
Mississippi—No notes were reported.
Missouri—The state DOC did not respond to the
NPS-CPan survey.
Montana—The state DOC had no vaccination policies
specifically for staff.
Nebraska—No notes were reported.
Nevada—The state DOC confirmed that the number
of positive tests was equal to the number of unique
prisoners who tested positive.
New Hampshire—The state DOC was unable to report
the number of unique prisoners who tested positive.
BJS allocated the number of positive tests to this count.

New Mexico—No notes were reported.

North Carolina—The number of expedited releases
was an estimate. Small differences may exist in the
population numbers reported to the NPS-CPan and
NPS-1B.
North Dakota—The state DOC confirmed that the
number of positive tests was equal to the number
of unique prisoners who tested positive. The North
Dakota Parole Board considered various factors when
weighing release options, moving up parole review
dates, or maintaining existing parole dates or review
dates. Factors included, but were not be limited
to, time remaining on a sentence, case plan, risk
classification scores, community placement options,
release plan, medical risk factors, behavior in facility,
and past community supervision instances. Counts of
vaccinated prisoners and staff were estimates. The state
DOC did not require staff to report their vaccination
status. Staff could choose to voluntarily provide human
resources with proof of vaccination.
Ohio—The state DOC did not report the number of
expedited releases because the state used multiple legal
mechanisms for early release and determined that it
would be impossible to fully account for the range of
judicial and agency responses that accelerated release
for some prisoners in the context of the pandemic
(e.g., judicial release, furlough approval, earned credit
expansion, and emergency release). The DOC did not
track whether COVID-19-related deaths were based on
a medical examiner or coroner’s report.
Oklahoma—The state approved criteria for expedited
release but did not release anyone early due to
the pandemic. The state DOC did not track staff
vaccinations and was unable to report the number
of COVID-19-related staff deaths. While the DOC
reported the total number of employees who tested
positive, it could not specify who did and did not work
within a prison facility.
Oregon—BJS assigned data for Oregon based on its
submission to the 2020 National Corrections Reporting
Program and policy documents and statistics on the
state DOC’s website. Sex and age data were located for
30 of the 42 prisoners who died during the pandemic.

IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON STATE AND FEDERAL PRISONS, MARCH 2020–FEBRUARY 2021 | AUGUST 2022

30

Pennsylvania—The state DOC did not have
information on the number of COVID-19-related
prisoner deaths confirmed by a medical examiner or
coroner. Age was one factor for expedited release, with
no minimum age limit.

Virginia—The state DOC did not have any
information on the demographics of prisoners who
tested positive.

Rhode Island—No notes were reported.

West Virginia—Changes to the February 28, 2021
population count that could not be explained by
admissions and releases were due to increased use of
regional jails by the state DOC during the pandemic.
These facilities were not within the scope of the NPSCPan survey. The DOC tracked only the number of
positive tests. BJS assigned the number of unique
prisoners who tested positive to represent as the total
number of positive tests.

South Carolina—The state DOC did not track the
vaccination status of staff.
South Dakota—Fewer than five prisoners tested
positive more than once, so the number of unique
prisoners who tested positive was similar to the
number of positive tests. The state DOC did not track
the vaccination status of staff.
Tennessee—No notes were reported.
Texas—The population and admission counts reported
to the NPS-CPan and NPS-1B differ because treatment
centers and halfway houses were excluded from the
NPS-CPan survey.
Utah—No notes were reported.
Vermont—The state DOC did not track releases due
to COVID-19. The first vaccine clinic for staff was on
March 18, 2021, after the NPS-CPan survey period.

Washington—No notes were reported.

Wisconsin—The state DOC did not track staff deaths.
Wyoming—The numbers of unique prisoners
and staff who tested positive for COVID-19 and
COVID-19-related deaths reported by the Wyoming
DOC to the NPS-CPan survey may differ from counts
published by other media outlets. The state adopted a
policy of repeatedly testing every new person admitted
to prison during the first 10 days of confinement and
20% of staff and prisoners at least every other week.
Following a positive result, 100% of staff and prisoners
were tested in the following weeks until no tests
returned a positive result.

IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON STATE AND FEDERAL PRISONS, MARCH 2020–FEBRUARY 2021 | AUGUST 2022

31

App
Month
January 2020
February 2020
March 2020
April 2020
May 2020
June 2020
July 2020
August 2020
September 2020
October 2020
November 2020
December 2020
January 2021
February 2021

Persons in custodya
1,310,848
1,308,754
1,298,255
1,255,515
1,224,778
1,198,265
1,169,822
1,151,223
1,138,998
1,132,529
1,121,226
1,107,660
1,097,839
1,092,936

Admissionsb
54,167
48,964
41,225
14,099
17,569
21,027
23,777
28,323
32,471
37,724
28,823
30,100
28,329
31,822

Note: Includes persons held for state or federal correctional authorities
in government-operated or privately operated prisons, regardless
of sentence status or length, and persons admitted to these prisons.
Excludes prisoners held in and admitted to local jails on behalf of
federal or state correctional authorities and persons held in or admitted
to privately operated prisons under federal contract. Totals exclude
Missouri, which did not submit data to the National Prisoner Statistics
program – Coronavirus Pandemic Supplemental Survey. Estimates will
differ from previously published statistics.
aCustody population on the last day of each month.
bAdmissions during the entire month.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Prisoner Statistics program
– Coronavirus Pandemic Supplemental Survey, 2021.

IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON STATE AND FEDERAL PRISONS, MARCH 2020–FEBRUARY 2021 | AUGUST 2022

32

App
Number of
expedited
Jurisdiction
releases
Federal
0
Alabama
0
Alaskaa
0
Arizona
0
Arkansas
1,803
California
11,584
Colorado
611
Connecticuta
0
Delawarea
0
Florida
0
Georgia
918
Hawaiia
430
Idaho
293
Illinois
0
Indiana
0
Iowa
4,700
Kansas
0
Kentucky
1,717
Louisiana
68
Maine
0
Maryland
1,365
Massachusetts
73
Michigan
0
Minnesota
366
Mississippi
0
Missouri
/
Montana
24
Nebraska
0
Nevada
0
New Hampshire
0
New Jersey
3,732
New Mexico
408
New York
2,106
3,500
North Carolinab

No policy for
expedited
release





Time
Maximum
left on
time left
sentence (months)

Nonviolent
offenders
only

Verified
post-prison
Health housing in
status community





6
12
12











6
18
~
24










12
1.5
6
12

















4
..







Less than life



/


/
12






12
1
3
24



Risk
assessment
score

Age

Minimum
age
(years)







~
18
55







Only nonviolent
offenders with Positive
Prisoner
no violent prior viral test for was
convictions
COVID-19
unsentenced

~












~
~
~
~













18
~
65
..








60
..







/


/


/


/















~








/

/
~



/

~
/


/
..

/



~

60
~
~
~









~
~

Continued on next page
IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON STATE AND FEDERAL PRISONS, MARCH 2020–FEBRUARY 2021 | AUGUST 2022

33

aPPendix Table 2 (continued)
Criteria for expedited release due to the COVID-19 pandemic, by jurisdiction, January 2020–February 2021
Number of
expedited
Jurisdiction
releases
North Dakota
191
Ohio
0
Oklahoma
0
Oregon
0
Pennsylvania
146
Rhode Islanda
52
South Carolina
0
South Dakota
0
Tennessee
0
Texas
0
Utah
1,420
0
Vermonta
Virginia
1,597
Washington
422
West Virginia
158
Wisconsin
0
Wyoming
0

No policy for
expedited
release

Time
Maximum
left on
time left
sentence (months)

..

Nonviolent
offenders
only


Verified
post-prison
Health housing in
status community



Risk
assessment
score


Age


Minimum
age
(years)
..

Only nonviolent
offenders with Positive
Prisoner
no violent prior viral test for was
convictions
COVID-19
unsentenced


~


~

~







12
3



6
~
12
1.5
3












..
~



~























~
~
~
~
55






Note: Expedited release is the release of a person at least 1 day before their scheduled or expected release date or post-custody community supervision eligibility date, to limit prisoner risk and exposure to
COVID-19 or due to COVID-19-related understaffing, court orders, or legislative mandates. Jurisdictions could adopt criteria for expedited release at any time from January 2020 to February 2021.
..Not known. Maximum time remaining on sentence or minimum age were not specified.
~Not applicable.
/Not reported.
aPrisons and jails form one integrated system. Data include both prison and jail populations.
bState considered persons with expected 2020 or 2021 releases eligible for expedited release.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Prisoner Statistics program – Coronavirus Pandemic Supplemental Survey, 2021.

IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON STATE AND FEDERAL PRISONS, MARCH 2020–FEBRUARY 2021 | AUGUST 2022

34

App

Month
January 2018
February 2018
March 2018
April 2018
May 2018
June 2018
July 2018
August 2018
September 2018
October 2018
November 2018
December 2018
January 2019
February 2019
March 2019
April 2019
May 2019
June 2019
July 2019
August 2019
September 2019
October 2019
November 2019
December 2019
January 2020
February 2020
March 2020a
March 2020b
April 2020
May 2020
June 2020
July 2020
August 2020
September 2020
October 2020
November 2020
December 2020

Mean number of admissions for—
Violent offense
Nonviolent offense
294
757
294
753
293
750
292
746
291
742
290
739
289
735
288
731
287
728
286
724
285
720
284
717
283
713
282
709
282
706
281
702
280
698
279
695
278
691
277
687
276
684
275
680
274
676
273
673
272
669
271
665
270
662
111
289
117
298
124
307
130
317
137
326
144
336
150
345
157
354
164
364
170
373

Note: Data are based on the 37 states that submitted National
Corrections Reporting Program data from 2018 to 2020. For March
2020, data are shown for the beginning and the end of the month. See
Methodology for discussion of analysis and offense types.
aBefore the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
bAfter the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Corrections Reporting
Program, 2018–2020.

IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON STATE AND FEDERAL PRISONS, MARCH 2020–FEBRUARY 2021 | AUGUST 2022

35

App
State 1 admissions for— State 2 admissions for— State 3 admissions for— State 4 admissions for— State 5 admissions for—
Violent Nonviolent
Violent Nonviolent
Violent Nonviolent
Violent Nonviolent
Violent Nonviolent
Month
offense offense
offense offense
offense offense
offense offense
offense offense
January 2018
1,404
1,574
205
661
723
1,741
229
396
562
1,208
February 2018
1,400
1,570
205
656
721
1,734
227
393
557
1,197
March 2018
1,396
1,565
205
651
720
1,728
226
390
553
1,186
April 2018
1,392
1,560
206
645
718
1,721
225
387
549
1,175
May 2018
1,388
1,555
206
640
716
1,714
224
383
545
1,164
June 2018
1,384
1,551
207
635
715
1,707
222
380
541
1,154
July 2018
1,380
1,546
207
630
713
1,700
221
377
537
1,143
August 2018
1,377
1,541
207
625
711
1,693
220
374
533
1,132
September 2018 1,373
1,536
208
620
710
1,687
218
371
529
1,121
October 2018
1,369
1,532
208
614
708
1,680
217
368
525
1,110
November 2018 1,365
1,527
209
609
706
1,673
216
364
521
1,100
December 2018 1,361
1,522
209
604
705
1,666
215
361
517
1,089
213
358
512
1,078
January 2019
1,357
1,517
210
599
703
1,659
February 2019
1,353
1,513
210
594
701
1,652
212
355
508
1,067
March 2019
1,349
1,508
210
589
699
1,646
211
352
504
1,056
April 2019
1,346
1,503
211
584
698
1,639
209
349
500
1,045
May 2019
1,342
1,498
211
578
696
1,632
208
346
496
1,035
June 2019
1,338
1,494
212
573
694
1,625
207
342
492
1,024
July 2019
1,334
1,489
212
568
693
1,618
206
339
488
1,013
August 2019
1,330
1,484
212
563
691
1,611
204
336
484
1,002
September 2019 1,326
1,479
213
558
689
1,605
203
333
480
991
October 2019
1,322
1,475
213
553
688
1,598
202
330
476
981
November 2019 1,318
1,470
214
547
686
1,591
200
327
472
970
December 2019 1,315
1,465
214
542
684
1,584
199
323
468
959
January 2020
1,311
1,460
214
537
683
1,577
198
320
463
948
February 2020
1,307
1,456
215
532
681
1,571
197
317
459
937
March 2020a
1,303
1,451
215
527
679
1,564
195
314
455
927
March 2020b
361
532
126
343
242
531
96
135
153
248
April 2020
370
506
126
330
241
539
96
133
161
261
May 2020
378
480
125
317
240
548
96
131
170
274
June 2020
387
454
125
305
239
556
96
129
179
287
July 2020
395
428
124
292
238
565
96
127
187
300
August 2020
404
403
124
279
237
574
96
125
196
313
September 2020
413
377
123
266
235
582
96
123
204
327
October 2020
421
351
123
254
234
591
96
121
213
340
November 2020
430
325
122
241
233
600
97
119
222
353
December 2020
439
299
122
228
232
608
97
117
230
366
Note: Data are based on 5 of the 37 states that submitted National Corrections Reporting Program data from 2018 to 2020. For March 2020, data are
shown for the beginning and the end of the month. See Methodology for discussion of analysis and offense types.
aBefore the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
bAfter the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Corrections Reporting Program, 2018–2020.

IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON STATE AND FEDERAL PRISONS, MARCH 2020–FEBRUARY 2021 | AUGUST 2022

36

Appendix table 5
Estimates for figure 4: Mean number of persons in the
custody of state prisons in 37 states, by offense type,
month-end January 2018–December 2020
Month
January 2018
February 2018
March 2018
April 2018
May 2018
June 2018
July 2018
August 2018
September 2018
October 2018
November 2018
December 2018
January 2019
February 2019
March 2019
April 2019
May 2019
June 2019
July 2019
August 2019
September 2019
October 2019
November 2019
December 2019
January 2020
February 2020
March 2020a
March 2020b
April 2020
May 2020
June 2020
July 2020
August 2020
September 2020
October 2020
November 2020
December 2020

Mean number of prisoners in custody for—
Violent offense
Nonviolent offense
16,071
12,513
16,060
12,472
16,049
12,431
16,038
12,390
16,027
12,348
16,015
12,307
16,004
12,266
15,993
12,225
15,982
12,183
15,971
12,142
15,960
12,101
15,949
12,060
15,938
12,018
15,927
11,977
15,916
11,936
15,905
11,895
15,894
11,853
11,812
15,883
15,872
11,771
15,861
11,730
15,850
11,688
15,839
11,647
15,828
11,606
15,816
11,565
15,805
11,523
15,794
11,482
15,783
11,441
15,390
10,432
15,246
10,148
15,101
9,863
14,957
9,579
14,813
9,294
14,668
9,010
14,524
8,725
14,380
8,441
14,235
8,156
7,872
14,091

Note: Data are based on the 37 states that submitted National
Corrections Reporting Program data from 2018 to 2020. For March
2020, data are shown for the beginning and the end of the month. See
Methodology for discussion of analysis and offense types.
aBefore the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
bAfter the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Corrections Reporting
Program, 2018–2020.

App

Month
January 2018
February 2018
March 2018
April 2018
May 2018
June 2018
July 2018
August 2018
September 2018
October 2018
November 2018
December 2018
January 2019
February 2019
March 2019
April 2019
May 2019
June 2019
July 2019
August 2019
September 2019
October 2019
November 2019
December 2019
January 2020
February 2020
March 2020a
March 2020b
April 2020
May 2020
June 2020
July 2020
August 2020
September 2020
October 2020
November 2020
December 2020

Mean number of releases for—
Violent offense
Nonviolent offense
298
773
298
772
297
771
297
769
297
768
297
766
297
765
296
763
296
762
296
760
296
759
296
758
295
756
295
755
295
753
295
752
295
750
294
749
294
747
294
746
294
744
294
743
293
742
293
740
293
739
293
737
293
736
278
690
275
663
271
636
268
610
265
583
262
556
259
529
256
502
252
475
249
449

Note: Data are based on the 37 states that submitted National
Corrections Reporting Program data from 2018 to 2020. For March
2020, data are shown for the beginning and the end of the month. See
Methodology for discussion of analysis and offense types.
aBefore the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
bAfter the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Corrections Reporting
Program, 2018–2020.

IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON STATE AND FEDERAL PRISONS, MARCH 2020–FEBRUARY 2021 | AUGUST 2022

37

App
All new
prisoners
tested at
Jurisdiction
admission
Federala
All
Alabama
Some
Alaskab
All
Arizona
All
Arkansas
All
California
All
Colorado
All
Connecticutb
All
Delawareb
All
Florida
All
Georgia
All
Hawaiib
All
Idaho
All
Illinois
Some
Indiana
All
Iowa
All
Kansas
All
Kentucky
All
Louisiana
All
Maine
All
Maryland
All
Massachusetts Some
Michigan
All
Minnesota
All
Mississippi
All
Missouri
/
Montana
All
Nebraska
None
Nevada
Some
New Hampshire
All
New Jersey
All
New Mexico
All
New York
None
North Carolina
All
North Dakota
All

Automatic
quarantine
of newly
Lockdown
admitted
of prisoners
prisoners
in cells
All
Some
Some
~
All
All
All
Some
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
None
All
None
All
Some
All
Some
Some
Some
All
All
Some
Some
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
Some
All
All
Some
All
Some
Some
All
Some
All
All
/
/
All
All
All
None
Some
All
All
Some
All
None
All
None
Some
Some
All
Some
All
All

Daily
temperature
checks of
prisoners
None
All
All
Some
All
~
All
None
All
All
Some
All
All
All
All
Some
All
Some
All
All
~
None
All
All
All
/
Some
None
All
All
Some
All
None
All
All

Staff
temperature
checks at
start of shift
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
Some
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
/
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All

Isolation/
quarantine of
symptomatic
prisoners
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
/
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All

Enforced sick/
administrative
leave of
symptomatic
staff
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
/
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All

Provision
of hand
Provision of
sanitizer to face masks
prisoners to prisoners
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
None
All
Some
All
All
All
None
All
Some
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
..
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
/
/
All
All
None
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All

Provision of
face masks/
gloves
to staff
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
/
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All

Viral testing
of prisoners
before
release
All
None
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
None
None
Some
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
..
All
All
None
All
/
Some
None
All
All
All
All
Some
None
All

Antibody/
serology
testing
of staff
None
Some
None
All
All
None
None
All
None
None
None
None
None
None
None
Some
None
~
None
~
None
All
None
None
~
/
None
None
None
~
All
All
Some
All
All

Antibody/
serology
testing of
prisoners
None
Some
None
Some
All
None
None
All
None
None
All
None
None
None
~
Some
None
~
None
~
None
All
All
None
~
/
Some
None
None
~
All
All
Some
All
All

Continued on next page
IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON STATE AND FEDERAL PRISONS, MARCH 2020–FEBRUARY 2021 | AUGUST 2022

38

aPPendix Table 7 (continued)
Tactics adopted to mitigate COVID-19 transmission in state and federal prisons, by jurisdiction, March 1, 2020–February 28, 2021

Jurisdiction
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Islandb
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermontb
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming

All new
prisoners
tested at
admission
All
None
..
All
All
All
All
Some
None
All
All
All
All
Some
All
All

Automatic
quarantine
of newly
Lockdown
admitted
of prisoners
prisoners
in cells
All
None
Some
All
..
~
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
None
All
Some
All
All
All
All
All
Some
All
Some
Some
Some
All
All
All
All

Daily
temperature
checks of
prisoners
All
All
Some
Some
None
Some
All
None
None
All
All
~
Some
Some
~
None

Staff
temperature
checks at
start of shift
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All

Isolation/
quarantine of
symptomatic
prisoners
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All

Enforced sick/
administrative
leave of
symptomatic
staff
All
All
..
All
All
All
All
..
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All

Provision
of hand
Provision of
sanitizer to face masks
prisoners to prisoners
All
All
All
All
..
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
None
..
All
All
Some
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All

Provision of
face masks/
gloves
to staff
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All

Viral testing
of prisoners
before
release
All
All
None
All
Some
All
Some
All
All
None
All
..
Some
Some
All
None

Antibody/
serology
testing
of staff
None
None
~
~
None
None
None
~
None
None
None
Some
Some
None
~
None

Antibody/
serology
testing of
prisoners
Some
None
~
All
None
Some
None
~
None
All
None
All
All
None
~
None

Note: Tactics were adopted at any time from March 1, 2020 to February 28, 2021 in none, some (at least one), or all government-operated and privately operated prisons in each jurisdiction.
..Not known.
~Not applicable.
/Not reported.
aExcludes tactics adopted in privately operated prisons under federal contract.
bPrisons and jails form one integrated system. Data include both prison and jail populations.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Prisoner Statistics program – Coronavirus Pandemic Supplemental Survey, 2021.

IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON STATE AND FEDERAL PRISONS, MARCH 2020–FEBRUARY 2021 | AUGUST 2022

39

App

Jurisdiction
Federala
Alabama
Alaskab
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticutb
Delawareb
Florida
Georgia
Hawaiib
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Islandb
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermontb
Virginia

Transfers
between prison
and local facilities
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
Some
All
All
All
Some
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
Some
All
/
All
Some
All
All
All
Some
All
All
All
All
All
..
All
All
All
All
Some
All
All
All
All

Educational Drug/alcohol
Prison labor
programs treatment programs programs
All
~
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
~
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
Some
Some
All
All
All
All
All
All
Some
Some
Some
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
Some
Some
All
All
All
All
Some
Some
All
All
All
All
None
Some
All
All
~
Some
All
All
All
All
All
All
Some
Some
Some
All
All
All
/
/
/
All
All
All
None
None
None
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
Some
Some
None
All
All
All
Some
All
Some
All
All
All
All
None
None
Some
All
All
All
..
~
..
All
All
All
All
None
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
None
None
All
All
All
All
Some
All
All
All
None
Some
All
All
All

In-person
family visitation
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
Some
All
/
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All

Ministry/religious
Legal visitation service programs
All
Some
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
~
All
Some
Some
None
All
All
All
None
All
All
All
Some
None
None
All
All
All
All
All
All
Some
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
Some
None
..
All
All
All
All
Some
Some
All
All
/
/
All
All
None
None
All
All
All
All
None
All
All
All
All
All
None
All
All
All
None
None
All
All
All
..
All
All
All
All
All
All
Some
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
All
None

Continued on next page

IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON STATE AND FEDERAL PRISONS, MARCH 2020–FEBRUARY 2021 | AUGUST 2022

40

aPPendix Table 8 (continued)
Activities completely suspended to mitigate COVID-19 transmission in state and federal prisons, by jurisdiction,
March 1, 2020–February 28, 2021
Jurisdiction
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming

Transfers
between prison
and local facilities
All
All
All
All

Educational Drug/alcohol
Prison labor
programs treatment programs programs
Some
Some
Some
All
Some
All
All
All
All
All
All
All

In-person
family visitation
All
All
All
All

Ministry/religious
Legal visitation service programs
Some
None
Some
Some
All
All
All
All

Note: Activities were suspended at any time from March 1, 2020 to February 28, 2021 in none, some (at least one), or all government-operated and
privately operated prisons in each jurisdiction.
..Not known.
~Not applicable.
/Not reported.
aExcludes activities suspended in privately operated prisons under federal contract.
bPrisons and jails form one integrated system. Data include both prison and jail populations.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Prisoner Statistics program – Coronavirus Pandemic Supplemental Survey, 2021.

IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON STATE AND FEDERAL PRISONS, MARCH 2020–FEBRUARY 2021 | AUGUST 2022

41

aPPendix Table 9
Denominators for calculation of COVID-19 infection rates in state and federal prisons, by jurisdiction, March 1,
2020–February 28, 2021
Total prisoners
at risk of
exposure while
Jurisdiction
in custodya
c
US. total
1,644,043
Federal
181,300
Statec,d
1,462,743
Alabama
23,790
Alaskae
29,044
Arizona
53,348
Arkansas
23,380
California
133,542
Colorado
24,091
21,722
Connecticute
Delawaree
12,753
Florida
106,281
Georgia
61,740
Hawaiie
11,298
Idaho
12,560
Illinois
47,811
Indiana
32,612
Iowa
12,341
Kansas
12,885
Kentucky
34,438
Louisiana
17,186
Maine
2,701
Maryland
30,325
Massachusetts
10,701
Michigan
43,173
Minnesota
12,451
Mississippi
18,448
Missouri
/

Number of unique
prisoners
Total prison- to calculate total
days of
prison-days of
exposure riskb exposure risk
~
~
~
~
301,478,295
1,241,766
~
~
~
~
~
~
5,486,860
25,095
37,305,053
138,903
5,526,879
25,028
~
~
~
~
29,911,455
112,222
17,286,067
65,180
~
~
2,568,811
13,565
11,914,242
51,500
8,701,952
35,001
2,740,652
13,410
3,253,924
13,992
7,092,369
37,041
~
~
552,438
2,969
~
~
2,918,581
10,718
~
~
2,815,251
13,400
4,186,115
19,299
~
~

Jurisdiction
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New
Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Islande
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermonte
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming

Total prisoners
at risk of
Total prisonexposure while days of
in custodya
exposure riskb
9,620
~
7,965
1,713,189
16,427
3,604,184
3,277
21,012
8,724
49,055
49,834
2,700
61,684
29,512
17,759
54,792
10,606
21,529
7,162
27,554
170,081
7,847
3,632
30,467
21,680
8,442
29,726
3,035

704,320
~
~
13,858,283
11,907,531
482,862
16,347,101
8,054,179
5,108,644
14,756,984
~
5,472,327
1,574,323
6,644,312
43,192,480
1,410,179
555,311
8,193,273
5,604,994
1,450,903
8,006,933
575,334

Number of unique
prisoners
to calculate total
prison-days of
exposure risk
~
8,485
17,512
3,490
~
~
52,776
53,771
2,851
66,454
31,491
18,408
57,365
~
22,827
7,916
31,643
179,358
8,702
4,366
31,419
22,923
7,520
31,785
3,381

Note: Includes persons held for state or federal correctional authorities in government-operated and privately operated prisons, regardless of
sentence status or length. Excludes prisoners held in local jails on behalf of state or federal correctional authorities. Estimates will differ from
previously published statistics.
~Not applicable.
/Not reported.
aTotal number of persons in the custody of government- and privately operated prisons at any time from February 29, 2020 to February 28, 2021 (i.e.,
the sum of persons in custody on February 29, 2020 and persons admitted each month from March 2020 to February 2021).
bSum of the number of days of exposure risk for all persons in the custody of government-operated and privately operated prisons from their date
of admission or from the date of the first documented positive COVID-19 test among prisoners in each jurisdiction (whichever is later), through their
release date or through February 28, 2021 (whichever is earlier). See Methodology for details on the calculation of prison-days.
cTotals exclude Missouri, which did not submit data to the National Prisoner Statistics program – Coronavirus Pandemic Supplemental Survey
(NPS-CPan).
dTotal for prison-days rates includes only the 36 states that submitted comparable 2020 National Corrections Reporting Program and NPS-CPan data.
ePrisons and jails form one integrated system. Data include both prison and jail populations.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Corrections Reporting Program, 2020; and National Prisoner Statistics program – Coronavirus Pandemic
Supplemental Survey, 2021.

IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON STATE AND FEDERAL PRISONS, MARCH 2020–FEBRUARY 2021 | AUGUST 2022

42

App

All staff
All prisoners Prisoners
vaccinated
required to allowed to opt
Jurisdiction
before prisoners get vaccine out of vaccination

Federala
Alabamab

Alaskac

Arizona

Arkansas

California

Colorado

Connecticutc

Delawarec

Floridab

Georgia

Hawaiic

Idaho

Illinois

Indiana

~
Iowa

Kansas


Kentuckyb


Louisiana

Maine

Maryland

Massachusetts


Michigan
Minnesota

Mississippib


Missourid
/
/
/
Montana

Nebraska

Nevada


New Hampshire
~
~


New Jersey
New Mexico

New York


All staff
required to
get vaccine

/

Staff allowed Older prisoners
to opt out of prioritized over
vaccination younger prisoners


























~





















/
/
~














Prisoners with
chronic/other
infectious diseases
prioritized over
healthy prisoners











Prisoners soon
to be released
prioritized for
vaccination












/


















Newly admitted
prisoners
Prisoners offered
prioritized for
incentives to get
vaccination
vaccine


~







~
~

~



~



/

~
/

/

~

~

~

Continued on next page
IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON STATE AND FEDERAL PRISONS, MARCH 2020–FEBRUARY 2021 | AUGUST 2022

43

aPPendix Table 10 (continued)
COVID-19 vaccine distribution policies that were adopted, by jurisdiction, through February 28, 2021
All staff
All prisoners Prisoners
vaccinated
required to allowed to opt
Jurisdiction
before prisoners get vaccine out of vaccination
North Carolina

North Dakota

Ohio

Oklahoma


Oregon

Pennsylvania

Rhode Islandc

South Carolinab

South Dakota

Tennessee

Texas

Utah

Vermontc

Virginia

Washington

West Virginia


Wisconsin

Wyoming


All staff
required to
get vaccine

Staff allowed Older prisoners
to opt out of prioritized over
vaccination younger prisoners



















~










Prisoners with
chronic/other
infectious diseases
prioritized over
healthy prisoners





Prisoners soon
to be released
prioritized for
vaccination

Newly admitted
prisoners
Prisoners offered
prioritized for
incentives to get
vaccination
vaccine




~














Note: Includes COVID-19 vaccine distribution policies adopted by state and federal correctional authorities in government-operated and privately operated prisons.
~Not applicable.
/Not reported.
aExcludes policies adopted in privately operated prisons under federal contract.
bState department of corrections adopted COVID-19 vaccination distribution policies but did not receive vaccines before the end of the study reference period of February 28, 2021.
cPrisons and jails form one integrated system. Data include both prison and jail populations.
dMissouri did not submit data to the National Prisoner Statistics program – Coronavirus Pandemic Supplemental Survey.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Prisoner Statistics program – Coronavirus Pandemic Supplemental Survey, 2021.

IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON STATE AND FEDERAL PRISONS, MARCH 2020–FEBRUARY 2021 | AUGUST 2022

44

The Bureau of Justice Statistics of the U.S. Department of Justice is the
principal federal agency responsible for measuring crime, criminal
victimization, criminal offenders, victims of crime, correlates of crime, and
the operation of criminal and civil justice systems at the federal, state, tribal,
and local levels. BJS collects, analyzes, and disseminates reliable statistics
on crime and justice systems in the United States, supports improvements
to state and local criminal justice information systems, and participates
with national and international organizations to develop and recommend
national standards for justice statistics. Alexis R. Piquero is the director.
The report was written by BJS Statistician E. Ann Carson and Melissa Nadel
and Gerry Gaes of Abt Associates. Stephanie Mueller, Zhen Zeng, and Todd
Minton verified the report.
Eric Hendrixson and Edrienne Su edited the report. Carrie Epps-Carey
produced the report.
August 2022, NCJ 304500

111111111111111 IIIIII Ill II IIIII Ill
NCJ 304500

Office of Justice Programs
Building Solutions • Supporting Communities • Advancing Justice
www.ojp.gov

 

 

The Habeas Citebook Ineffective Counsel Side
Advertise here
BCI - 90 Day Campaign - 1 for 1 Match