Assistance for Incarcerated People Discharged during a Pandemic

Read this new op-ed in NC Policy Watch by Dr. Marvin Swartz, “Assistance for incarcerated people discharged during the pandemic: The humane and constitutional thing to do.”  Dr. Swartz, who heads the Division of Social & Community Psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at Duke University and is faculty in the Duke Law Center for Science and Justice, describes:

“As local, state and federal officials race to arrange for the discharge of sick, elderly and non-violent incarcerated persons in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its swift spread through correctional institutions, a big question arises: Must there be discharge plans for these men and women to help protect their health and that of the public?”

Dr. Swartz describes a recent Second Circuit ruling, in Charles v. Orange County, highlighting its implications post-COVID:

“The Charles ruling is the clearest statement to date of a broader constitutional duty to conduct adequate discharge planning before release from a correctional facility. Let’s hope it stimulates further litigation on behalf of people in detention and prods state and federal leaders to appropriate adequate resources so that corrections officials can come rapidly into compliance with generally accepted standards for discharge planning.”