Udi Ofer Fights for Reduction in Jail Populations to Curb the Spread of Covid-19

Udi Ofer '01, Director of the ACLU's Justice Division, penned an op-ed for the Boston Globe countering the Boston Police Commissioner's recent claim that reducing the number of incarcerated people makes communities less safe and noted that overall crime is down ("Gross, Rollins Take Tough-On-Crime Rhetoric Too Far in Recent Comments," May 18). "We recognize the balancing act between stemming the spread of the virus in prisons and jails and keeping the public safe. But public safety during this pandemic and afterward requires reducing the footprint of the criminal legal system and greater investment in violence prevention, not more incarceration."

Udi was quoted in The Guardian and Reuters warning against the exponential threat posed to incarcerated and surrounding communities as ACLU study spotlights jails as vectors for disease. ("Mass Incarceration Could Add 100,000 Deaths to US Coronavirus Toll, Study Finds," Apr. 22, "Across U.S., COVID-19 Takes a Hidden Toll Behind Bars," May 18). "When it comes to Covid-19 deaths, mass incarceration is our achilles heel. The two things the CDC recommends for Americans to fight the virus – social distancing and personal hygiene – are both impossible in jails."