Covid-19 in the Federal Prison System

Covid-19 in the Federal Prison System

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This research is about the effects and how covid-19 is being dealt with in the federal prison system. It is an explanation and a test on how the management of the covid-19 inmates has been possible. It also looks into the discussion of the confusion and the hard time faced by the managers of the prison and the federal government when it comes to deciding what is supposed to be done when an inmate gets infected with the coronavirus. This is considered challenging because some of the inmates are jailed for severe offenses, and in as much as it is essential to protect their health, it is also essential to protect the public from such figures (Blumstein & Beck, 1999.)

Therefore due to this, the federal government has to decide on how to deal with them. Simultaneously, it also protects the other inmates in prison and protects the public from the actions of the individuals who are released from the prisons. They are released to be treated and taken care of from home and might begin their criminal activities again or, due to their pain and anger, decide to spread the infection to as many people as possible. This is a big challenge that has had issues being addressed.


The federal prison system has always been of interest to me. It is of more interest since I am viewing it not just as the federal prison system but what I could call the complicated nature of the federal prison system due to the covid-19. Coronavirus pandemic having affected the everyday lives also affected the lives in the prisons. Since the individuals there went in there for correction and not a death punishment, they have to be cared for. This is according to the constitution that correction should not exceed what is necessary. Therefore there has always been a kind of humanity in dealing with criminals and the desire for them to change. The desire for them to change makes it possible for the individuals in their serving to keep talking to them and using physical, psychological, and cognitive methods to help them. They help them realize how what they did was wrong and see possible opportunities for change and be better people to the outside world and themselves (Abraham et al. 2020). For example, a person engaged in mass murder may be taught how precious human life is and how wrong they were doing. Psychological methods here could be used to help the person understand.

Therefore in a general manner, the federal prison system is a corrective facility, and it has always had challenges because it is brought some of the hard-core prisoners. They need a lot of working to change their conviction, even if it means inflicting pain so that they can change their behavior. The interest in how covid-19 measures are administered and how covid-19 is treated if found present in a federal prison is of great interest to me. I have always wanted to examine the level of kindness and consideration of the emotions, health, mental abilities, and other variables of the individuals in the prisons when it comes to their behaviors being corrected. With Covid-19 in place, it becomes even better to research these variables because of the complexity with which covid-19 brings.

Therefore it is even best to research these variables at present so that if the mental health, emotions, and other factors affecting the prisoners are considered, it will be easy to prove my hypothesis that there is humanness in the prisons. However, suppose all these factors and variables which affect the prisoners directly or indirectly are not considered to any extent. In that case, my hypothesis will not be proved since it will come out as a negative result that the prisoners’ emotions, mental ability, and general social responsibility are not considered. Therefore the federal prison system is not humane. Apart from being humane, it is essential to look into the number of inmates in America’s whole united states. From a person who thinks critically, it is essential to check if these figures are reasonable. According to Judith Lichtenberg in ‘the week’ states, the American population is 5 percent of the world; however, the American prison population is 25 percent of the world, and therefore this raises questions of how the federal prison system is being run and being managed (Farrington, & Nuttall, 1980). This research also looks into issues and factors like proportionality, race issues, and consideration. Therefore, this research’s overall question is if the federal prison system is doing more evil than good.

In the whole of this confusion about the role of the federal prison system in correcting the individual’s behavior, we also get to learn of the details of how the system has always operated and how it is operating in recent times. Therefore, the research’s more refined details examine health, cognitive ability, social responsibility, and emotional balance and satisfaction considerations, among other factors in the federal system facilities. By discussing these issues, it will be easier to determine whether the federal prison system is humane and if it is doing more harm than good. This research will also be possible to determine if the federal prison system is ‘too much’ on people, meaning that there is a need to examine if there is the proportionality of what is being tested along with what is ethical and in the law.

Therefore, the federal system is always considered by many people as unfair and sometimes leaning so much on racial discrimination, which ultimately changes how people get to view the federal prison system. Thus, the federal prison system is considered not trustworthy by some people, which downgrades the positive effects that public institutions should have on individuals. Therefore, the factors that are likely to affect how the federal prison system operates are factors like racial discrimination, unbalanced justice, being imprisoned when a person could do community service for their crimes, among others.

Research questions

What is the effect of racial discrimination in the federal court system?

Does the federal prison system treat criminals equally based on their social status

Why are there so many inmates in the federal prison system

Does the federal prison system consider the mental health of the inmates?

Does the federal prison system consider the cognitive ability of the inmates?

What covid-19 measures have been put into place to ensure there is no spread of the disease to other inmates from the ones who have the disease

However, all of these research questions are directed towards the determination of the role of the federal prison system and if it does more good than evil in changing the behavior of the inmates and to the general public as well. In answering these questions, this research paper will follow an experimental method of research whereby the information and everything will be explored in line with finding the answers to the questions and understanding the federal prison system provided.

The research will be a qualitative one. The primary subjects of study will be the various cases that have been decided in the court of law, and this, the focus will be on the people involved in the cases. The other people involved in the study are the ex-prisoners who have experience of the federal prison system and how it operates, and its ability to change a person’s behavior. The general public will also be examined to give their thoughts and beliefs about the federal prison system and explain why they think it is good or it is not good. Through this, it will be possible to make a conclusive and well-researched statement weighing on the side of if the federal prison system does more good than harm or it does more evil than good in American society.

Literature review

This research paper is to determine if the federal prison system does good or bad in American society. In this line, several articles, books, newspapers, and other sources have been examined to prove and determine this.

Theoretical perspective

According to Thomas Parker (2016), law without enforcement is impotent, and therefore it is through the courts of justice and the prisons that this law is put into practice and exercised fully. However, there are always limitations to how this law is practiced, and this is indicated by Parker in his two theories of the United States prison system. Parker asserts that these two concepts are crucial when it comes to applying the law, and therefore it determines how the law is applied and how everything is done around the law and why it is done the way it is done. His work is divided into two parts, and he presents us firstly with the social and historical account of racism and the prison system in the United States of America. In the second part, he discusses the prisons being an inefficient burden of excess energy. He also brings about the issue of nebulous bio-polar, a state whereby race and class act within the political sphere to kill the citizens’ aspects, especially within the prisons. This is to means that this concept makes individuals socially inactive but economically productive.

The social and historical accounts of the united states prison system indicate what has been evolving with time. Therefore it helps us understand the current state of the prison system in America. The understanding comes from the fact that it is only possible to understand something when there is a background to it entirely, and this background is the history. In this section, we realize how racist the American prison system has been over the years. Even though there have been improvements, it cannot be entirely determined that the prison system is spotless of this issue. Therefore this theory suggests that the American prison system can never be viewed separately as one entity. The issue of racism is viewed as a separate entity because they are both intertwined. This, therefore, makes the system already corrupt even before the examination. The racism expressed and found within the law is a systematic one. It can be viewed as borrowed from each other’s everyday conceptualizations and what is meant by being black and white to different people.

The second part of his work focuses on prisons being an inefficient burden of excess energy. In this, Parker states that the prisons act to create a caste of citizens who are thought to be an ideal of the American standard, and therefore there is a lot of energy used to create them. Therefore it is upon this basis that the prisons operate and are run. Therefore, Parker focuses on different theories to generally express these ideas and facts about the United States prison administration and the prisons’ condition.

Other theories that are utilized for this kind of understanding of the justice system and the prison system in the United States of America are the theories given the name of disciplinary theories that include retributive, denunciation, and utilitarian theories. According to Setter (2011) of these three theories, the one commonly used in the United States is the retributive theory. This method involves rehabilitative practices such as counseling and other training, which are meant to improve the skills and the prisoners’ ability to be better people when they get out of the prisons after their period of correction. The retributive theory asserts that when a person does a wrong, they are supposed to suffer and later change towards positivity and leave their destructive behaviors. Therefore this theory is widely applied to the prisoners in the United States involves two stages, as stated above. The incarceration and the rehabilitation. Incarceration is the punishment for the offenses one does, while rehabilitation is the process of trying to correct a person’s behaviors.

Even though this theory is widely used, there are still discussions about whether it is possible to use other corrections methods apart from this. Some social scientists also discuss and try to prove the possibility of leaving the incarceration part outside and majorly focusing on rehabilitation. Even though this is acceptable by some people, a majority have the feeling that it is not the best thing to do since incarceration to a great extent makes a person realize that they made a mistake. It also makes them realize that they should do away with their former behavior. Therefore, those who propose this theory state that every part of the theory must be involved in correcting a person since it is wholesome. It makes a person get out being better. This is because if a person does not feel pain for what they did wrong, it is difficult for them to completely change and see the world as a different right place to live and try to avoid hurting other people, especially those who are close to them.

Recidivism is also another theory on the rise of late. It talks of how the criminals or law offenders have been re-arrested for committing crimes they had committed before. This is an essential part of the law, and it helps a lot to ensure that the law offenders and the criminals are reinstated. In this regard, the lawbreakers must be re-arrested for the same crimes not to be repeated. It also means that when they are arrested, they are reinstated better and corrected in a better manner.


Apart from the theories, other literature about the federal prison system is also available, and they provide a lot of information concerning how the whole process of justice. The federal bureau of prisons is one of the significant sources of information about how the federal government has put measures into place to correct the inmates’ behaviors. During the corona period, the federal bureau of prisons has had many changes which have affected the prisons positively and others negatively. Some of these measures include the change in the visiting practice whereby the visiting was banned in the first place when corona was announced. In the same regard, the number of hours allowed per week on calls with the families and friends was increased, which served as their way of making a replacement in their social life and replacing the physical visiting which was happening before. Therefore, even though banned, the visits were allowed to some extent only for those unavoidable circumstances whereby the inmates had to be visited.

The figure below displays a chart representing the different ways of preventing coronavirus that can affect the rate of leveling the curve, which also means the rate and speed of infection. Therefore if the preventive measures are not there in prisons, then the infection will be high rate, and if there are preventive measures, the infection will not be high rate.

Fig. 1: The rate of infection with preventive measures versus with protective measures.

Research methods

This research is about whether the federal prison system does good or bad in the United States of America. Therefore this section will deal with how the data used in this research has to be collected. The research will be conducted among the former inmates who have had experience in the federal prison. More focus will be given to those who have been in prison, especially during the period of the corona, as they will give more information on how they could live with the coronavirus, not affecting them adversely as most people might have expected. The questionnaire will be administered through an online platform and preferably through Google forms, reducing the extent to which the covid-19 might be spread. The anticipated response period is within one week, and the survey will comprise 20 questions per questionnaire.

Dependent variables

The dependent variable for this research was the rate at which the covid-19 infected the inmates. The respondents answered the question, ‘how many people were infected by a coronavirus in the corrective facility you were in?’

Independent variable

The independent variables in this research used included the following; the use of a causative agent of coronavirus, the preventive measures of coronavirus, and the facility’s ability to hold all the inmates at that particular time. Therefore these independent variables are essential as well as the hypothesis which is discussed below;


The independent variables are closely related to the hypothesis. The hypotheses include;

The causative agent of covid-19 is coronavirus

This hypothesis relates to the independent variable in that it serves as an answer to the independent variable.

The preventive measures of covid-19 are face masks, vaccination, and other behavioral traits, which help make sure that the virus is not spread.

The relationship between this hypothesis and the independent variable about the preventive measures of covid-19 is close.

The facilities’ ability to hold inmates during the coronavirus period is good, and therefore the inmates can be held correctly due to the changes.

This hypothesis relates closely to the independent variable about the ability of the corrective facilities to hold the inmates during the corona period.

Analytic strategy

I will use the bivariate analytic strategy because it will analyze two variables: if the federal prison system does excellent or harmful to the American’ society in light of its response to the Covid-19 pandemic and how it has been able to manage this issue at hand.


In this research, the results were that even though the federal prison system is of importance, it has been used negatively in many instances, especially when there is the jailing of people who have done very little harm. This includes those who are not supposed to be jailed but rather corrected in other ways like community service. This, therefore, is a challenge associated with the prison system. However, there are also right sides and parts of the system whereby the system has helped a lot curb the bad behavior and illegal activities within the United States of America territories.

The respondents indicated that the facilities employed excellent methods to ensure social distance and ensure that the virus infects no one. The inmates who were asked questions through questionnaires stated that the prison system has a lot of good than evil and especially at this time of coronavirus. Therefore they should be supported and given the necessary support rather than being criticized.

Discussion and conclusion

In the research, I expected to determine why racism is still an issue for the federal prison system; however, this information was not easily accessible since no one of the respondents said that racism was an issue. This was in contrast with the reviewed literature that racism was a big issue in the prison system.

The limitations of the information and data collection in this research is that the questionnaire over the internet was not as expressive as an interview could have been if it was possible to employ this means of data collection. There is still a lot that needs to be done in this area of study, like the federal prison system’s racism issue.

In conclusion, we can say that even though the federal prison system is sound and not devastating, it is still essential to check into the different aspects of how this system runs and how this can be made better. Like the overcrowding of the correction facilities, the challenges faced in this system should be changed and resolved in the right manner.


Abraham, L. A., Brown, T. C., & Thomas, S. A. (2020). How COVID-19’s disruption of the US correctional system provides an opportunity for decarceration. American Journal of Criminal Justice, 45(4), 780-792.

Blumstein, A., & Beck, A. J. (1999). Population growth in US prisons, 1980-1996. Crime and justice, 26, 17-61.

‌BOP: BOP’s COVID-19 Modified Operations. (n.d.). Retrieved March 3, 2021, from website:, D. P., & Nuttall, C. P. (1980). Prison size, overcrowding, prison violence, and recidivism. Journal of Criminal Justice, 8(4), 221-231.

Lichtenberg, J. (2016, September 30). America’s prison system is inhumane. Here’s why. Retrieved from website:, B. T. (2016). Two Theories of the United States Prison System (Doctoral dissertation, Appalachian State University)