Alaina Lynch

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This paper offers a critique of the punitive response to COVID-19 in the United States and argues that punitive resources must be redistributed. Specifically, this paper suggests that no criminal charges be brought related to the novel disease transmission because policing and arrests related to COVID-19 exposure crimes are counterproductive. Defunding these punitive efforts and reallocating funds towards virus containment, the spread of factual information about disease transmission, vaccine research, the delivery of resources to communities in need, and support for victims of crimes in alternative ways is a more effective strategy to support public health and safety. To make progress towards prison abolition in the United States, COVID-19 must not be viewed as a new opportunity to prosecute, dehumanize and cage individuals. Rather than bring criminal charges that perpetuate the permanence of prison, the nation has an opportunity to demonstrate that proper redistribution of resources can be a more effective way of protecting the public in the face of any new crisis.