Legal Aid Society

COVID-19 Infection Tracking in NYC Jails

The Legal Aid Society is tracking and publishing weekly updates on the spread of COVID-19 in NYC jails, including Rikers Island, published at the end of each week. Our latest analysis on the rate of infection of people in Department of Correction (DOC) custody and DOC staff is included as downloadable files at the bottom of this page.

Coronavirus Infection Rates as of July 31, 2020

Locations COVID-19 Cases Population Infection Rate Infections/ 1,000 people
People in DOC Custody** 283 3,987 7.10% 70.98
DOC Staff 1,420 10,977 12.94% 129.36
DOC Total 1,703 14,964 11.38% 113.81
New York City 221,534 8,175,133 2.71% 27.1
New York State 419,081 19,440,469 2.16% 21.56
United States 4,638,288 331,002,651 1.40% 14.01


** This is not the cumulative number of cases of people who have contracted COVID-19 while detained in NYC jails. See our daily analysis report for more information on the limitations of the data provided by the Department of Correction.

“COVID-19 is spreading rapidly at Rikers Island and other local jails, endangering our clients, correction staff and all of New York City,” said Tina Luongo, Attorney-in-Charge of the Criminal Defense Practice at The Legal Aid Society. “Based on this analysis, New York City jails have become the epicenter of COVID-19. It is imperative that Albany, City Hall, our local District Attorneys and the NYPD take swift and bold action to mitigate the spread of this deadly virus. Stop sending people to Rikers and let these New Yorkers out immediately. Anything else is too little, too late.”

A note on the available data: Correctional Health Services (CHS), a division of NYC Health and Hospitals, has refused to publish critical information about the COVID-19 situation in NYC jails, including the cumulative total number of people who have contracted coronavirus in DOC custody and the total number of people in DOC custody tested for the virus. The Legal Aid Society has called for more transparency from CHS in a letter in March, a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request in April, and an administrative FOIL appeal in May. The Legal Aid Society has also filed a FOIL request with the Department of Correction and the Board of Correction seeking this critical data to better understand the scope of coronavirus transmission in NYC jails.

Weekly Data Updates

07/31/20 – Charts and Graphs / Raw Data and Citations 
07/24/20 – Charts and Graphs / Raw Data and Citations
07/17/20 – Charts and Graphs / Raw Data and Citations
07/10/20 – Charts and Graphs / Raw Data and Citations
07/03/20 – Charts and Graphs / Raw Data and Citations

View all of our infection rate tracking updates in the data archive.

Additional Resouces

As COVID-19 spreads across the country, we’ve put together a template and step-by-step guide for analyzing the data and making charts and graphs on the spread of the virus in other jails, prisons, and immigration detention facilities.

Contact Information

For questions or further information please email Molly Griffard and Alex Lesman.