What is Happening in our Jails and Prisons:
1. Louisiana–Officials reported the death of a 47-year-old inmate on 3/28/20, after contracting the coronavirus at a Louisiana federal prison–at least five prisoners have tested positive for the virus.
2. Michigan–The number of Michigan inmates having the Coronavirus has increased 100% just over the weekend
According to the Michigan Department of Corrections, there are 58 inmates incarcerated at different Michigan state prisons, who are infected with the virus. Additionally, 11 correctional officers and civil employees have contracted the Coronavirus.
3. New York–Dozens of inmates and prison staff, have the Coronavirus.
Because inmates share cramped living quarters, bathrooms, chow halls, and have limited access to water-soap, they are at great risk for contracting the Coronavirus. To make it worse, medical care at our jails and prisons is often inadequate and ineffective. The correctional officers and civilian staff, who have daily contact with inmates, share the same high risk for the spreading virus. After their shift ends, the officers and staff, go home, and place their family members at risk of contracting the Coronavirus.
On March 27th, Gov. Cuomo took the first step toward reducing this crisis, by releasing 1100 inmates, charged with nonviolent offenses. Scott Hechinger, a Brooklyn public defender reported to the Washington Post,“Every single person now trapped on Rikers and other jails throughout New York State, serving short sentences for non-violent and other low-level offenses, will be released shortly anyway… Why risk turning a couple of months for low-level drug possession or petit theft into a death sentence?” Mayor Bill de Blasio has also ordered the release of 300 nonviolent inmates from Rikers Island.
The states should give compassionate release to elderly inmates. release inmates suffering from other major health issues (pulmonary diseases), probation–parole violators locked up for minor violations (i.e. missing an appointment with their probation or parole officer), etc.
Jails and prisons have no choice, but to take immediate action to protect inmates, correctional officers, and civilian employees from this Pandemic.