Prisons and Surrounding Communities at Huge Risk to COVID-19

Prisons and Surrounding Communities at Huge Risk to COVID-19

The virus, in fact, has already reached correctional facilities. According to reporting from The New York Times, there were more than 350 cases confirmed between New York, California, Michigan, Alabama and a dozen other states. But beyond the lack of availability of tests that may be underreporting the numbers, fear of isolation and solitary confinement has prisoners hiding their symptoms, according to the AP.

New York City, which remains the epicenter of the virus in the United States, owns the highest clip of infected prisoners and staffers, with a combined nearly 250 testing positively for COVID-19. An estimate by a group petitioning New York’s Supreme Court said that the virus’s attack rate on the state’s infamous Rikers Island is 85 percent higher than that of the average U.S.

As Samantha Michaels of Mother Jones reported, the inmates in Rikers, the second largest correctional facility in the U.S., are on edge. Inmates have inadequate access to cleaning supplies like wipes and soap and sleep in overcrowded dorm-like cells with as many as 60 other men, making it near-impossible to social distance.

“The anxiety level is extreme,” Kenny, an inmate at Rikers told Michaels. “This feels like a death sentence.”

New York City, largely behind Mayor Bill de Blasio’s directive, has released 400 people in the city jail system, most of whom were scheduled for release in the next 90 days despite the crisis. But this remains far too few if officials intend to curtail the mass spread in hot spots like Rikers.

via triplepundit. Prisons and Surrounding Communities at Huge Risk to COVID-19