Colorado ACLU wants sheriffs to reduce jail population to avoid COVID-19 spread

ACLU of Colorado is asking the state’s sheriffs to reduce the jail population in all 52 counties to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 among the prison population and local communities.

In a letter to all the state’s sheriffs, ACLU of Colorado cited the medical necessity of drastically reducing community spread in county jails as a matter of public and constitutional duty.


Get the latest state-specific policy intelligence for the health care sector delivered to your inbox.



“This epidemic has the potential to become the Coming Prison Plague,” Dr. Franco-Carlos, infectious disease expert at the University of Colorado Anschutz explained in the letter.

The ACLU says social distancing is impossible while incarcerated, creating an ideal breeding ground for the transmission and spread of COVID-19 both within jails and the community. About 600 prisoners are released from jails daily in Colorado, which has the potential of spreading COVID-19 through towns and cities, the ACLU said.

“Jails are a revolving door to and from the community, creating the possibility of a superhighway of transmissions from the jail to free Coloradans,” the ACLU said.

Like residents of elder-care homes, inmates who contract COVID-19 are significantly more vulnerable to severe complications and death than individuals living free in the community.

“This a particularly cruel outcome given that most of the people incarcerated in our jails are pre-trial, have not been convicted of a crime, and remain behind bars only because they cannot afford the money bond to get out,” ACLU of Colorado Senior Staff Attorney and Senior Policy Counsel Rebecca Wallace said.