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During this pandemic, needlessly keeping people in prison and jail puts everyone at a higher risk of getting sick. Prison and jails are places where COVID-19 can easily spread, exposing people detained or working there and, in turn, their families and communities.

Millions of people churn through prison every year — something research before the pandemic showed increases the spread of diseases. People sentenced to prison or jails are especially susceptible to getting sick, because of health challenges they had before entering, and due to prisons being crowded and having limited medical care.

Black and brown communities in several states are being disproportionately harmed by COVID-19, a result of disparities across the board, including those related to over-incarceration. Our #StopTheSpread Action Plan seeks to prevent this outcome for underserved communities, and the harm to all, by ensuring support for providers of essential services to those most in need, while urging the safe release of people unnecessarily incarcerated.

Given that research shows that longer sentences do not reduce recidivism more than shorter sentences, and may actually increase it, strategies that reduce the number of people incarcerated will reduce health risks and make us all safer.

The Alliance for Safety and Justice has been calling for state governments to safely reduce incarceration and expand support for crisis assistance services so that we can #StopTheSpread of the coronavirus.

Here are five ways to safely reduce incarceration right now: