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Articles on prison overcrowding

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Even before COVID-19, El Salvador’s prisons were contagious disease hotspots. Here, MS-13 gang members with tuberculosis at Chalatenango prison, March 29, 2019. Marvin Recinos/AFP via Getty Images

Mass arrests and overcrowded prisons in El Salvador spark fear of coronavirus crisis

El Salvador is arresting thousands of people for violating its COVID-19 quarantine, further packing a 'hellish' penal system once described as a 'petri dish' for infectious disease.
Calls for help at Chicago’s Cook County jail, where hundreds of inmates and staff have COVID-19, April 9, 2020. Kamil Krzaczynski/AFP via Getty Images

Prisons and jails are coronavirus epicenters – but they were once designed to prevent disease outbreaks

In the 1790s, penal reformers rebuilt America's squalid jails as airy, hygienic places meant to keep residents – and by extension society – healthy. Now they're hotbeds of COVID-19. What went wrong?
Families clashed with security forces outside the police station in Valencia, Venezuela, where nearly 70 prisoners died in a March 28 fire. AP Photo/Juan Carlos Hernandez

Behind the scenes of Venezuela’s deadly prison fire

After a fire killed 66 inmates at a Venezuelan jail in March, news stories portrayed the country's prisons as lawless. The real backstory of this deadly riot is more complex — and maybe a bit scarier.

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