Unsanitary and overcrowded conditions in American prisons and jails have left these facilities ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic. In a handful of facilities with high test rates, the majority of people tested positive, and many of the largest outbreaks in the country are in prisons and jails. It’s crucial that we fight for the freedom of as many people as possible amid these lethal conditions.

This week’s Take Action Now gives you ways to fight for humane conditions in prisons and jails, demand the release of incarcerated people, and support people who have been released.

Take Action Now gives you three meaningful actions you can take each week whatever your schedule. You can sign up here to get these actions and more in your inbox every Tuesday.


After outcry from advocates, people incarcerated in federal prisons have been granted free phone calls during the pandemic, but those at county jails, state prisons, and detention centers still have to pay up to $25 for a 15-minute phone call. Tell your representatives and the Federal Communications Commission to make phone calls free at all facilities. Then tell your lawmakers to support legislation in upcoming response packages to allocate resources to improve sanitary conditions in jails and prisons to reduce the spread of COVID-19.


Since the start of the pandemic, state and local governments have taken meaningful steps to release people during the crisis, but there’s much more to be done. First, check out Prison Policy Initiative’s list of government responses to the coronavirus in prisons and jails to learn more about what’s already happening across the country. Then ask Congress to support the Second Look Act, which would create a sentence review procedure for people serving sentences longer than 10 years in prison. Donate to National Bail Out to help bail out black mothers and caregivers this month in honor of mothers day.


People being detained in immigrant jails face some of the highest risk during the coronavirus pandemic. Watch some of Detention Watch Network’s educational videos to learn more about the threats facing these communities. Check out the organization’s #FreeThemAll toolkit to learn how you can get involved in the fight for mass release of people in ICE custody from the local to the national level. Scroll down to find petitions from across the country to sign and share. Learn how to target local decision-makers, and prepare your community to welcome people being released.