In March-April, 2020, we communicated with a cohort of criminal justice-involved (CJI) women to see how they were navigating COVID-19, chronic illness, homelessness, and shelter-in-place orders in Oakland, Birmingham, and Kansas City. We report on conversations with N = 35 women (out of the cohort of 474 women) and our own observations from ongoing criminal justice involvement studies. Women reported barriers to protecting themselves given widespread unstable housing and complex health needs, though many tried to follow COVID-19 prevention recommendations. Women expressed dissatisfaction with the suspension of research activities, as the pandemic contributed to a heightened need for study incentives, such as cash, emotional support, and other resources. COVID-19 is illuminating disparities between those who can follow recommended actions to prevent infection and those who lack resources to do so. Concerted efforts are required to reduce inequities that put the 1.3 million U.S. women under criminal justice supervision at risk for infection and mortality.
Criminal justice-involved women navigate COVID-19
Notes from the Field