At least 1 in 6 of all COVID-19 cases in Illinois’ communities are linked to spread from a single jail. Nationally, we cycle 5 million people through jail every year. If the study’s findings roughly hold in other places, this may produce as many as 10.7 million additional COVID-19 cases and many thousands of deaths in the US. – Eric Reinhart

Image of man with classes and cap. He has his chin and head propped up by his left hand. Circle with words political encounters and encuentros políticos written inside the circle. name edwin mayorga, ph.d. and USALAmedia logoTune in to Encuentros Políticos/Political Encounters, Tuesdays at 4p EST & Sundays at 5p EST on

Episode: Unnecessary arrests, Unnecessary deaths: Incarceration and COVID 19, a conversation with Eric Reinhart

The U.S. has seen another significant surge of COVID19 cases, and as the U.S. navigates these shifting conditions research about the virus and how it spreads continues to be shared. Research has shown that jails and prisons remain a key site  through which the virus spreads. In the article Incarceration and Its Disseminations: COVID-19 Pandemic Lessons From Chicago’s Cook County Jail in the journal Health Affairs, Eric Reinhart and Daniel Chen analyzed data from Cook County Jail in Chicago, Illinois, one of the largest known nodes of Covid 19 spread in Illinois and the US, and found that the jailing cycle, which is the process of authorities arresting, booking and then releasing low level offenders, was one of the most significant predictors of the spread of Coronavirus. 

To provide us more perspective on the study and Covid 19 and incarceration I am pleased to have researcher Eric Reinhart on political encounters/encuentros políticos.

Download this episode from Spreaker:


Artwork by AJ Dungo

Eric Reinhart ( is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology, Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and an MD candidate at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, in Chicago, Illinois. He is also a candidate in adult psychoanalysis at the Chicago Center for Psychoanalysis

Relevant Texts

FBI National Press Office. (2019). FBI releases 2018 crime statistics—FBI.
Dobbie, W., Goldin, J., & Yang, C. S. (2018). The effects of pre-trial detention on conviction, future crime, and employment: Evidence from randomly assigned judges. American Economic Review, 108(2), 201–240.

Jacobin Magazine. (2020, June 27). When you arrest as many people as we do, you cannot protect against infectious spread [Blog].

Reinhart, E. (2020, July 2). Opinion | Stop unnecessary arrests to slow coronavirus spread. The New York Times.

Reinhart, E., & Chen, D. (2020). Incarceration and its disseminations: COVID-19 pandemic lessons from Chicago’s Cook County jail. Health Affairs, 10.1377/hlthaff.2020.00652.

Vera Institute of Justice. (2018, September 28). Arrests: How manny arrests are made annually, and for what? Arrest Trends.
Download this episode from Spreaker: