• Mar 24, 2020

Houston Institute Represents Leading Public Health Experts on Risk of COVID-19 in Prison

Today we submitted an amicus letter on behalf of 10 public health experts in the case of Christie v. Commonwealth. Mr. Christie is 54, wheelchair bound, and has multiple severe conditions that would predispose him to a potentially life-threatening case of COVID-19. He is currently incarcerated for technical violations of probation (missing a meeting with a probation officer due to a hospitalization, having an issue with his GPS monitor, and having an issue with his treatment program). The prison where he’s held had more than 250 repeat environmental health violations in 2019, and it is the site of the Commonwealth’s first COVID-19 outbreak in a carceral environment: 14 people there now have confirmed COVID-19 cases.

As we argue in our letter, the threat of COVID-19 in a correctional environment is inherent and severe. Infectious diseases spread readily in overcrowded environments and confined settings, especially where existing environmental health is depleted and access to medical care is limited. Given the facts emerging on how COVID-19 is transmitted, it is clear that a prison is among the most dangerous possible places for this disease to spread. Accordingly, we urge the Court to find that the risk to Mr. Christie’s health militates in favor of a stay of his sentence and release from prison as he litigates an appeal of the underlying revocation of his probation for the alleged technical violations.

Read our letter:

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