More of the same, only worse: COVID-19 and the administrative burdens facing loved ones of incarcerated men.

Speakers: Alysha McDonald, PhD student, McMaster University and Dr. Sandra Bucerius, University of Alberta, Canada.

Chaired by Dr Cara Jardine, University of Strathclyde.

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, officials have introduced measures to preserve the health of incarcerated individuals and prison employees. However, little attention has been paid to the challenges of these institutional responses for individuals with incarcerated loved ones. To understand the impact of COVID-related correctional policies, we conducted 181 longitudinal interviews from April 2020 to January 2021 with 29 individuals who have incarcerated loved ones.

Participants emphasized concerns about:

(1) health and safety;

(2) unclear, unpredictable, and untrusted communications; and

(3) diminished personal intimacy. We discuss these findings using an ‘administrative burden’ framework, which appreciates participants’ experiences and suggests a wider applicably for individuals who have diverse encounters with the criminal justice system.

Alysha McDonald is a PhD student at McMaster University in the Department of Sociology. She’s interested in incarceration experiences, particularly as they relate to individuals convicted of sexual offences and how it impacts their identities and expectations for reintegration.

Dr. Sandra M. Bucerius is a Henry Marshall Tory Chair at the University of Alberta, the Director of the Centre for Criminological Research and a Full Professor of Sociology and Criminology in the Department of Sociology. She deploys extensive qualitative and ethnographic research to reveal the intricacies of settings that are difficult both to access and understand: prisons, police organizations, and marginalized street and newcomer communities. Bucerius is the Director of the University of Alberta Prison Project – an extensive multi methods study on prison life in Canada. She also edits the Oxford University Handbook series in Criminology (with Michael Tonry) and serves on the editorial advisory board of Criminology and Incarceration.