As parts of the country start to reopen and some people consider venturing out of their homes more often, there are millions of people who haven't been able to socially distance throughout this time—specifically, the 2.3 million people who are currently incarcerated in the United States.
Lawrence Bartley was first on the show back in 2014, when he was still incarcerated at Sing Sing. Now he works at The Marshall Project, and as part of his job editing their publication News Inside, he frequently gets letters from incarcerated people and their loved ones. "The letters are desperate," he told me of what he's hearing right now. One of the people who reached out to him was a woman we're calling Dana—and I talked with her, too. Her husband "John" is currently at Sing Sing, and while they talk almost every day, not being able to see him has taken a toll on her. "The anxiety level that I've reached has me physically ill," she told me, "because I don't know if he's really okay."
We first spoke to Lawrence Bartley back in 2014, which you can listen to here. Our other follow-up episodes with him and his wife Ronnine are available here and here, and be sure to read his recent essay for The Marshall Project , called "How 27 Years In Prison Prepared Me For Coronavirus," here.
You can find our WNYC colleagues' work here: "Dispatches from People Stranded in Place," "Inside the Prison Pandemic," and "Keeping Released Prisoners Safe and Sane." And don't forget to check out the latest season of Ear Hustle.