The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing June 2 on incarceration practices during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Watch the hearing live in the video player above.
Dr. Scott Allen testified as a witness on the health risks posed to prisoners, immigrants, workers, and the public from the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, in correctional and immigration detention settings. Dr. Allen, who is an expert in detention health with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, warned Congress and the DHS in a letter last week that the conditions in prisons and immigration detention constitutes a “tinderbox scenario” for the spread of COVID-19.
“I urge you to recognize that this virus does not care who you are or what uniform you wear. It can easily move in and out of facilities undetected in the absence of aggressive testing-based surveillance and containment,” Dr. Allen said, according to written testimony.
Dr. Allen recommended that the committee pursue implementing aggressive testing; carefully reducing the populations in jails, prisons, and detention facilities; and collaborating with medical authorities to safely release detained individuals.