Upcoming Virtual Lecture and Panel

Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology and Bioethics at Harvard Law School

Harvard Law School
The Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School will present: Incarcerated Populations and COVID-19: Public Health, Ethical, and Legal Concerns on Wednesday, May 20, 2020, at 12:00 PM. 

Event Description 

Prisons, jails, and detention centers have been called ‘a ticking time bomb’ when it comes to COVID-19. One Ohio prison recently found that more than 70% of its inmates are COVID-19 positive. Social distancing is difficult to enact in these facilities, with some prisons stopping visitation and severely limiting the amount of time inmates can spend in common areas to try to limit the spread of the virus. In response, some inmates and detainees have been released, but this is not consistent across the country.

This panel will explore the unique public health challenge of trying to manage COVID-19 within incarceration facilities. Panelists will discuss recent litigation to release people in response to the pandemic. Lastly, they will consider the ethical obligations to incarcerated individuals during a pandemic as well as challenges of releasing individuals without allowing the virus to spread further.


  • Jessie Rossman, Staff Attorney, ACLU Massachusetts
  • Karthik Sivashanker, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine and staff consultation-liaison psychiatrist, VA Boston Healthcare
  • Joel Thompson, Staff Attorney, Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts and Clinical Instructor, Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Project
  • Moderator: Stephen Wood, Fellow in Bioethics, Center for Bioethics, Harvard Medical School and Visiting Scholar, Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics, Harvard Law School

Online Viewing 

Due to the ongoing closure of Harvard University, this event will be held entirely online. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Registrants will receive the Zoom link and password the day before the event.

Register now!