As of March 9th, the New York Times reported, there were an estimated 600 cases of coronavirus in the United States. This was an increase of 100%, since Friday. Thirty four states have reported cases. The Coronavirus will infect our jails and prisons. Dr. Jeff Keller, medical director for the Bonneville County Jail, in Idaho, stated,“Once (coronavirus) gets into an enclosed system like that, it kind of gets wild.”Because correctional facilities are a unique environment, there are complicated issues, such as visitation, security, etc.
What is Happening in our Jails and Prisons:
Bergen County jail officials, suspended all contact visits for inmates, but retained traditional visits, through glass partitions. Many jails and prisons are having difficulty in obtaining needed cleaning supplies. However, North East Tennessee jails are achieving preparedness. Tennessee-Sullivan County Jail staff have reported increased cleaning processes and have stocked up cleaning supplies.
There are jails and prisons that would have substantial difficulty providing isolated cells for a high number of infected inmates. There is the issue of resolving health care issues for correctional officers, who have the virus. Security will be affected, if a substantial number of correction officers fall ill from the Coronavirus,
The Federal Defenders of New York have reported that, “Many of the people detained are elderly or have serious medical issues, populations that are at particularly high risk for death if they contract the virus…“In the wake of a complete shutdown last week at the Manhatten MCC, some units of more than 25 people are sharing a single toilet. Many people are locked in small cells with a cellmate sharing a toilet and sink. Nobody has been able to shower more than once every three days. Bed sheets and clothes have not been cleaned in over a week,”
Jails and prisons have no choice, but to prepare immediately for this Pandemic.