Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Prisons in the United States, April - June 2020

Resource Type
Dataset : administrative records data, aggregate data
  • Kaplan, Jacob (University of Pennsylvania)
  • Hoyos-Torres, Sebastian (City University of New York. John Jay College of Criminal Justice)
  • Gur, Oren (Philadelphia District Attorney's Office)
  • Concannon, Connor (City University of New York. John Jay College of Criminal Justice)
  • Jones, Nick
Publication Date
Free Keywords
covid; prison; jail; coronavirus; guard; guard; correctional guards; correctional facilities (adults); state correctional facilities; inmate; inmate; female inmates; inmate; inmate deaths; inmate; inmate populations; inmate; male inmates; inmate; prison inmates; inmate; juvenile inmates; causes of death
  • Abstract

    Summary: This is a collection of publicly reported data relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic scraped from state and federal prisons in the United States. Data are collected each night from every state and federal correctional agency’s site that has data available. Data from Massachusetts come directly from the ACLU Massachusetts COVID-19 website (, not the Massachusetts DOC website. Data from a small number of states come from Recidiviz ( whose team manually collects data from these states. Not all dates are available for some states due to websites being down or changes to the website that cause some data to be missed by the scraper.
    The data primarily cover the number of people incarcerated in these facilities who have tested positive, negative, recovered, and have died from COVID-19. Many - but not all - states also provide this information for staff members. This dataset includes every variable that any state makes available. While there are dozens of variables in the data, most apply to only a small number of states or a single state.
    The data is primarily at the facility-date unit, meaning that each row represents a single prison facility on a single date. The date is the date we scraped the data (we do so each night between 9pm-3am EST) and not necessarily the date the data was updated. While many states update daily, some do so less frequently. As such, you may see some dates for certain states contain the same values.

    A small number of states do not provide facility-level data, or do so for only a subset of all the variables they make available. In these cases we have also collected state-level data and made that available separately.

    Please note: When facility data is available, the state-level file combines the aggregated facility-level data with any state-level data that is available. You should therefore use this file when doing a state-level analysis instead of aggregating the facility-level data, as some states report values only at the state level (these states may still have some data at the facility-level), and some states report cumulative numbers at the state level but do not report them at the facility level. As a result, when we identify this, we typically add the cumulative information to the state level file. The state level file is still undergoing quality checks and will be released soon.

    These data were scraped from nearly all state and federal prison websites that make their data available each night for several months, and we continue to collect data. Over time some states have changed what variables are available, both adding and removing some variables, as well as the definition of variables. For all states and time periods you are using this data for, please carefully examine the data to detect these kinds of issues. We have spent extensive time doing a careful check of the data to remove any issues we find, primarily ones that could be caused by a scraper not working properly. However, please check all data for issues before using it. Contact us at to let us know if you find any issues, have questions, or if you would like to collaborate on research.
Temporal Coverage
  • 2020-04-14 / 2020-06-24
    Time Period: Tue Apr 14 00:00:00 EDT 2020--Wed Jun 24 00:00:00 EDT 2020
  • 2020-04-14 / 2020-06-24
    Collection Date(s): Tue Apr 14 00:00:00 EDT 2020--Wed Jun 24 00:00:00 EDT 2020
Geographic Coverage
  • United States
Sampled Universe
Coronavirus data for cases inside of prisons in the United States.
. Smallest Geographic Unit: Prison facility

Update Metadata: 2020-06-26 | Issue Number: 1 | Registration Date: 2020-06-26