Hundreds of inmates have been released from state prisons during the COVID-19 pandemic to help curb the spread of the virus. But the same is not true in the state’s jails, which housed just under 16,000 people statewide in the first five months of 2020, according to data from the University of North Carolina School of Government. The North Carolina Department of Public Safety oversees the response to the coronavirus in the state’s prisons, but jails around the state do not have the same accountability or oversight.
So far there has been no directive from the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association on how to decarcerate those spaces. Scholar Felicia Arriaga has been tracking North Carolina jails’ response to the pandemic and joins host Frank Stasio to detail how the lack of jail decarceration has shaped the health and lives of those incarcerated there. Andrea “Muffin” Hudson, executive director of the North Carolina Community Bail Fund of Durham, also joins the conversation to share stories from those incarcerated in the Durham County Detention Center and to talk about what conditions are like on the ground there now.