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Opinion Piece: "As COVID-19 flares behind bars, now's not the time for more Terre Haute executions"

Nina Harawa, professor-in-residence of epidemiology for the Fielding School, wrote a commentary for the Indianapolis Star about scheduled executions of inmates at the US Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, and the potential for COVID-19 collateral damage affecting other prisoners and staff, as well as visiting family members, attorneys, spiritual advisors and more.

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Date: 
Wednesday, July 8, 2020
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As America labors under the effects of a global pandemic and struggles with decisions about when and how to resume various activities, the Trump administration announced June 15 that the federal government plans to carry out four executions in the coming weeks.

Many Americans may see little connection between the coronavirus pandemic and the government’s decision to resume executions after a 17-year hiatus. In my role as an epidemiologist who is currently part of efforts to address disparities in COVID-19 infections and deaths and who once led infection control efforts for the Los Angeles County jail, I know there is serious cause for concern.

Whether or not you support the death penalty in normal times, the potential for collateral damage from carrying out these executions as coronavirus cases surge should give you pause.

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