Brief Filed by Democracy Forward Explains Widespread Vaccination Is the Most Effective Way to Protect People in Carceral Settings from COVID-19

Washington, D.C. — Today, on behalf of the American College of Correctional Physicians, Democracy Forward filed an amicus brief in Plata v. Newsom urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to uphold the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California’s order requiring vaccination for all workers in the state’s correctional facilities.

To date, there have been more than sixty-seven million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S and 853,000 deaths. Incarcerated Californians account for more than 59,000 cases, and nearly 250 incarcerated Californians have died. More than half of all incarcerated Californians have contracted COVID-19. Immediate, widespread vaccination against COVID-19 is the surest way to protect people who are incarcerated, workers in correctional facilities, and the general public and to end this costly pandemic.

Vaccination is particularly important in carceral settings, where people who are at high risk are unable to choose to socially distance themselves from unvaccinated corrections officers and other prison workers with whom they come into close contact. As the brief states, “simply permitting, or even requiring, people who are incarcerated to receive the vaccine is not sufficiently protective if they are forced to closely encounter workers with low vaccination rates on an ongoing basis.”

The brief goes on to highlight that people who are incarcerated do not have the luxury of working from home or curtailing their social interactions to avoid contracting COVID-19, and they should not be forced to encounter unvaccinated individuals in cramped settings that have led to high infection rates.

Follow our other work to protect the health of our nation during the pandemic here.


Democracy Forward Foundation (“Democracy Forward”) is a nonprofit legal organization founded in 2017 that litigates cases involving government action on behalf of organizations, individuals, and municipalities. The organization has taken 650 legal actions and achieved victories supporting democracy and improving the lives and wellbeing of people and communities. Democracy Forward Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

The American College of Correctional Physicians’ strives to ensure that those who are incarcerated receive the quality health care mandated by the 8th amendment of the US Constitution as reflected in Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97. They develop position papers and hold discussion on matters pertaining to correctional health care.

Press Contact
Emily Singer
Democracy Forward
(973) 865-0063