COVID-19 and Prisons A Complicated Issue Without Simplistic Solution

NRA Prison
The NRA reports that several states are releasing criminals from prison to reduce CORVID-19 deaths.

Fairfax, VA -( The COVID-19 pandemic continues to dominate our nation’s headlines and the concerns of most Americans. In the pro-Second Amendment community, we’ve watched a seemingly never-ending deluge of developments that could, or would, have an impact on our right to keep and bear arms. And, of course, that means a potential impact on our right to self-defense.

Government resources in many areas are stretched paper-thin, which includes law enforcement. As we have pointed out before, even in ideal circumstances, it takes police several minutes, at best, to respond to a 911 call. In the new COVID-19 paradigm, those response minutes are likely stretching out further and further.

With that in mind, adding more criminals to the streets hardly seems like a reasonable response to containing the spread of the novel coronavirus. Nonetheless, that’s what is being considered, and in some areas implemented.

The idea behind releasing some of those currently incarcerated across the country in an effort to “flatten the curve” of the spread of COVID-19 has some reasoning behind it. Social distancing and minimizing person-to-person physical contact appear to be some of the best ways to prevent the spread of the virus, combined with regular hand washing and restricting sneezes and coughs to the confines of your own elbow.

But prisons are not usually conducive to minimizing person-to-person contact or maximizing social distancing; it’s just not in their design.

With the notion that our nation’s prisons could see an explosion of COVID-19 cases, some elected officials and groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) are promoting the release of some prisoners; some convicted and serving time, and some facing charges, but not released on bail or bond. Some claim this is to decrease the population of overcrowded prisons and jails, which could help decrease the chance of the rampant spread of the virus. Others add that certain offenders are either incarcerated for such petty offenses, are so close to the completion of their sentence, are merely charged and awaiting trial, or are in such an elevated risk category for COVID-19 that freeing them is the only solution.

While some concerns may be valid and worth considering, simply blindly freeing convicted criminals or those charged with criminal offenses is far from ideal.

The problem with what appears to be a blanket approach of letting loose those considered to not be an immediate threat to society is, how can you really know? The people some would like to see freed have already shown that they don’t always obey the law. Granted, most proposals involve freeing those who have been convicted of committing non-violent offenses, but as most people understand, plea agreements are often made to incarcerate individuals for lesser crimes than they actually committed.

The liberal magazine New York ran an article about potential problems at New York City’s infamous Rikers Island facility. The story was sympathetic to those incarcerated, but relied heavily on interviews with two inmates who were in jail for parole violations. While their situations, as portrayed, sounded concerning, there was no mention of what violations originally landed them in trouble. Were they originally convicted of violent crimes, or charged with violent crimes but plea-bargained their case down to a lesser charge?

And that’s part of the problem with releasing prisoners in response to fears over COVID-19. What guarantees do we have that these individuals will not simply return to their lives of crime? If they have already been exposed to COVID-19, what guarantees do we have that they will adhere to social distancing and self-quarantining guidelines?

According to the article, New York City’s five district attorneys have written to Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) to state their opposition to any large-scale release of prisoners, and implies that police and their union are similarly opposed. If law enforcement has concerns, shouldn’t we all?

California is poised to release thousands of prisoners. The ACLU is pushing for similar action in Montana. Pennsylvania is considering freeing prisoners, and Rhode Island is about to start releasing some of its own. The ACLU is also involved in pushing for the early release of prisoners in Massachusetts and New Jersey. At least 10 states are releasing prisoners at the state level, and 23 are ordering it be done at the local level.

So, what could possibly go wrong?

In Monroe County, N.Y., where the early release plan is already in play, eight registered sex offenders have been released. Three of them are even judicially classified as “most likely to re-offend.”

In Missouri, Attorney General Eric Schmitt (R) has pointed out that violent offenders have, in fact been released from the St. Louis jail. He also noted that the victims of the offenders were not notified of their release.

In Illinois, a man who had been accused of trespassing was released on a personal-recognizance bond (no money required to be put up), and within a half-hour, he had carjacked someone at knife-point. This particular incident may not have been caused by the current COVID-19-inspired atmosphere of releasing non-violent offenders, although it is possible that had an influence on the decision to let him go. It does, however, highlight the foolish presumption that those who are caught committing non-violent offenses will not escalate to violent offenses.

Without a carefully designed and implemented program to ensure the prisoners released early are truly not a realistic threat to public safety, our current COVID-19 pandemic fears could be joined by fears of an epidemic of violent crime.

Is it any wonder we have seen a dramatic increase in people purchasing firearms for self-defense? Government resources, again, are strained due to COVID-19. And now those same government entities responsible for helping to ensure public safety are releasing criminals because of the fear they may be exposed in prison to the same virus we are all trying to avoid while trying to enjoy our freedom; freedom which seems to be diminishing more and more with each passing day and executive order.

Law-abiding citizens are clearly concerned for their own safety during these difficult times. NRA will continue to work to ensure the Second Amendment is protected against those who would try to exploit the current situation to undermine our right to keep and bear arms. Keep coming back here for new developments on this front, and for suggestions on what you can do to help with our efforts.

National Rifle Association Institute For Legislative Action (NRA-ILA)


Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the “lobbying” arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Visit:

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They are safe in their jail cells, they are socially distanced by definition, keep them in jail and the F*ck away from society,


That’s only true to a point. They still require interaction with corrections officers who have to feed them when they are locked down (confined to their cells 24 hours a day). The CO’s are not locked down with them. They still come and go to and from the units and risk exposure in the free world with something as simple as filling their vehicle with fuel.


Prison used to be a punishment for those who broke the law. In the past, there weren’t color TVs in the cells, rights for the prisoners that ordinary citizens couldn’t enjoy without hiring a lawyer, free medical care, and recreational activities. Prison used to be a place no one wanted to go to and dreaded being sent there. Prisoners used to have to work in order to obtain any “privileges” and they were punished severely for infractions of the rules and drugs and sex were not available on a regular basis. Now we have, due to this COVID 19 media… Read more »


“If you don’t want to do the time, don’t do the crime.” —Third grade class, Mrs. Cook, P.S.177 Manhattan, NY, over sixty years ago.

Ej harbet

Also in the berretta intro! Im old as dirt!


Why is no one talking about herd immunity. The fact that prison populations are generally composed of people under 65 and relatively healthy people should give pause to anyone predicting pandemic. I say this because I was in Honduras when a massive influenza outbreak hit the country. People over the age of 65 were dropping like flies. The national penitentiary in Tegucigalpa has been a chronic source of trouble over the years and the Hondurans deployed a battalion of infantry to keep watch over it. The majority of prisoners got a three day run of chest and digestive flu. Then… Read more »

Matt in Oklahoma

No worries y’alls beloved inmates are all issued N95 mask. Just like every citi… oops oh every medical wor… oops like every law enf….oops like every soldi… oops
Well they got theirs before correctional officers were all issued. Yup

Ej harbet

If they are too dangerous to be out pop and plant em.
And if one you let out reoffends,pop em and plant em!

Wild Bill

Everyone get tested ASAP! The US is taking the Coronavirus seriously.

New testing methods are being used and you don’t have to leave your house. No hospital visit is necessary. All you have to do is mail a stool sample to:

Nancy Pelosi
1236 Longworth H.O.B.
Washington, DC 20515

Direct questions to (202) 225-4965

Note: Larger samples give more accurate results.

Ej harbet

:D. On the way! Hope the bag doesn’t rupture and the box leak. Also hope spinich doesn’t throw a false positive


The question burning in my mind is how would these failures (government employees, our so- called leaders) respond to a REAL catastrophe? Anyone ever hear of Las Palmas Island? When the Western half of that island let’s go and roars into the sea the entire East Coast is going to be decimated, gone. It’s not a question of if it happens but when, it’s going to happen. What will they do? Well, those who dont happen to be here, I live on the Chesapeake Bay, and survive will perform as their initial response the initiation of martial law and then… Read more »

Heed the Call-up

The claim about a tsunami due to a volcano on Las Palmas was deemed not credible due to the claim not being peer-reviewed and being paid for by an insurance company. Also, the cited facts about the fault line were also false.


In regards to the picture in your post I will say that a few days ago as I was driving around my town I saw one of our smaller parks that had the yellow plastic “scene” tape wrapped around all the playground equipment. I really need to get a picture of that for posterity.


I stopped by yesterday and got several pictures of the playground. As I pulled into the parking lot there was an Police SUV parked there as he was monitoring the traffic (at least I think that was what he was doing) on the four lane street. When I stepped out of my car and turned on my phone he decided he had someplace else to be. Wonder how it would have went if I hadn’t taken off my mag pouch and holster and gun when leaving the range after putting about 300 rounds downrange just before then. Normally would have… Read more »


I work on a maximum security unit in a state with one of the largest inmate populations in the country. Currently we have about 50 inmates that have tested positive across the state, and a little over 50 Corrections Officers that have also tested positive state wide. Until Monday of this week, we were not allowed to wear face masks/shields (PPE) while at work because the administration did not want to “panic” the inmate population! As of Monday and the announcement that everyone should wear face masks when away from home, it became mandatory for us to wear them while… Read more »


There is a very simple solution. TEST every inmate weekly. ANYONE testing positive will instantly be removed from the general population to another facility where those positive individuals can be quarantined together. Anyone NOT testing positive remains where they are. After 14 days quarantined, test again, if still posiive another 14 days in quarantine. If negative back into the general population ALL new inmates MUST be tested, and kept in quarantine untiltest results are back.Then assign to appropriate groupings. Most of the larger “warehouses” have multiple buidings. The same number of inmates can be shuffled about to maintain safe separation… Read more »


That’s not going to work with the cost of the tests as well as the number of inmates to be tested. There are not enough tests and not enough medical personnel to perform those tests each and every week until this event passes.


Not to even mention that it has been found that patients testing negative can be positive again days later.