COVID-19 in American Prisons: Solitary Confinement is Not the Solution

2020, Online, Online Volume 2 (2020) COVID-19 Symposium
Nicole B. Godfrey & Laura L. Rovner. As of November 12, 2020, at least 182,593 people incarcerated in American prisons, jails, and detention centers have tested positive for COVID-19; 1,412 incarcerated people have died. As the disease spread rapidly across the country (and world) in March 2020, public and prison health experts warned that jails and prisons could become incubators of the highly infectious disease. Recognizing the risk posed to the nation’s incarcerated population, public health officials issued interim guidance meant to assist prison officials seeking to protect the health and safety of incarcerated people. Simultaneously, prisoners’ rights advocates across the country filed lawsuits seeking to ensure prison systems protect incarcerated people from the risk posed by COVID-19.  In response to these lawsuits and the public health guidance, crowded prison…
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Mental Health and the Aged in the Era of COVID-19

2020, Online, Online Volume 2 (2020) COVID-19 Symposium
Barbara Pfeffer Billauer. Before CoVid felled the planet, the number of new cases of dementia every year tallied at ten million, or one new case every three seconds. Alzeheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia—which is fatal—affected 10% of Americans over sixty-five, some 4.7 million people. In recent years Alzheimer’s deaths rose 55%, 4 expected to quadruple by 2050. COVID-19 has dramatically exacerbated the situation. “At least 15,000 more Americans . . . died in recent months from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia than otherwise would have . . . .” This is about 18% higher than average. The CDC reported that between mid-March and mid-April, “about 250 extra individuals suffering from some form of dementia were dying each day.” In Wales, excess non-coronavirus related dementia deaths was 54% higher. In England, official figures tallied almost 10,000 unexplained…
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Enabling the Best Interests Factors

2020, Online, Online Volume 2 (2020) COVID-19 Symposium
Adrián E. Alvarez. For over a century, state courts and other child welfare agencies in the United States have been applying the “best interests of the child standard” to all decision-making concerning children. The standard is also enshrined within the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)—a treaty that every nation in the world has ratified except the United States. Notwithstanding its widespread adoption in family law, the standard is, with only a few exceptions, noticeably missing from American laws and policies pertaining to children in the immigration system. Full Article. 
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COVID-19 and Individuals with Developmental Disabilities: Tragic Realities and Cautious Hope

2020, Online, Online Volume 2 (2020) COVID-19 Symposium
Samuel J. Levine.  The COVID-19 pandemic has cast the United States, along with the rest of the world, into a time of crisis and uncertainty unlike any other in recent memory. Months into the pandemic, there is scant agreement among scientists, government officials, and large segments of the public, both domestic and abroad, as to determining the causes and workings of the virus, designing appropriate and effective responses to the outbreak, and constructing accurate assessments of the future—or even of the present. Indeed, the availability of concrete information about the virus and its effects is grossly inadequate and often replaced by anecdotal or impressionistic depictions, not infrequently accompanied by rumor and speculation. Perhaps at some point in the future, with the benefit of the passage of time and access to…
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