Zepeda-Millán Finds Public Support for Releasing Child Detainees

Associate Professor of Public Policy Chris Zepeda-Millán was featured in a Conversations with Changemakers interview about public opinions surrounding the current administration’s immigrant detention policies. He explained that “even before the COVID-19 pandemic occurred, jails, prisons and detention centers already had pretty bad conditions,” including poor sanitation, cold temperatures, inadequate medical care and dangerous overcrowding. Zepeda-Millán suspects an undercount in COVID-19 cases in detention centers, noting that only 1% of detainees had been tested but 60% of those tested positive for the virus. Before the pandemic started, one survey found that the public overwhelmingly rejected detaining children and preferred releasing immigrant children to family members or sponsors instead. Conditions have only worsened since the pandemic started, Zepeda-Millán said, and the public may be even more in favor of releasing detainees now that they know how the pandemic is spreading among incarcerated populations.

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