COVID-19 ravaged jail and prison populations across the country, and Michigan’s prisons were among the hardest hit, with more than 25,000 cases and more than 120 deaths.  The development of safe and COVID-19 vaccines in late 2020 provided hope that there was an end in sight.  However, when Michigan released its statewide vaccination plan prioritizing vulnerable populations that lived and worked in congregate settings, incarcerated people were conspicuously absent from the list. After months of working with other advocacy groups urging state officials to revise their vaccine prioritization plan to include incarcerated people, the ACLU of Michigan informed the governor’s office in March 2021 that we planned to go to court within days if the state’s policy did not immediately change. In response, the state revised its policy, prioritized incarcerated people along with other vulnerable groups living in congregate settings, and offered all 30,000 state prisoners access to a COVID-19 vaccine. 

(ACLU Attorneys Syeda Davidson, Dan Korobkin, and Phil Mayor; Cooperating Attorneys Andrew Dulberg, Julia Prochazka, Chaz Kelsh, and Ivan Panchenko of WilmerHale.)