Covid and Incarceration: Juvenile Facilities and ICE Detention

UPDATE: See “Covid and Immigrant Detention” and “Covid and Juvenile Facilities” for recordings and additional information.

Covid-19 adds to the dangers of juvenile detention and highlights ways in which detention fails to increase public safety. Threats to immigrant health and safety continue to increase under ICE detention.

Joshua Rovner, senior advocacy associate for The Sentencing Project, and Amber Qureshi, fellow at the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, join We Act Radio’s “Community thru Covid” July 15, 11 a.m. EASTERN, to share national and regional perspectives. Tune in to We Act Radio for audio or Facebook Live for video. Recordings posted shortly after air time.

Youth Detention and Covid-19

Nationally, facilities in DC and 37 states are actively affected by Covid-19 with roughly 1000 youth and 1000 adult staff cases reported, according to data obtained by The Sentencing Project. But testing remains inconsistent, and data is hard to gather from privately run facilities.

With little opportunity for hygiene and distance, some jurisdictions resort to solitary confinement as a substitute for medical quarantine. Meanwhile, most youth who are detained are suspected of a minor, non-violent offenses and have not been convicted. Their short stays in detention facilities risk contagion spread without affecting public safety. More in this recent report.

Joshua Rovner, senior advocacy associate for The Sentencing Project, manages a portfolio of juvenile justice issues for The Sentencing Project, including juveniles sentenced to life without parole, the transfer of juveniles into the adult criminal justice system, and racial and ethnic disparities in juvenile justice.

from The Sentencing Project, April 2020
from The Sentencing Project, July 2020


Thousands of individuals in Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody nationwide have tested positive for Covid-19 with sharp increases in some facilities in recent weeks (see e.g., this NPR report). In the DMV region, one facility — ICA-Farmville in Virginia’s Prince Edward County — is experiencing an fast-growing outbreak, with 93% of COVID tests returning positive results and six people hospitalized.

The National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG) has long been advocating for the rights of immigrants. Amber Qureshi is Yale Law Journal-Justine Wise Polier Fellow at NIPNLG, working on immigration enforcement issues, particularly those that impact low-income Muslim, Arab, and South Asian (MASA) communities. She joins “Community thru Covid” to discuss the situation in Farmville and nationwide.

Additional information at Sanctuary DMV Facebook page or website.

Tune in to We Act Radio for audio or Facebook Live for video.


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