‘Prison Is Not Designed For Social Distancing’: How Pandemic Is Forcing A Reckoning With A Flawed System
Prisons have long struggled with overcrowding, but the coronavius is casting a harsh spotlight on the problem.
The Prison Was Built To Hold 1,500 Inmates. It Had Over 2,000 Coronavirus Cases.
Jason Thompson lay awake in his dormitory bed in the Marion Correctional Institution in central Ohio, immobilized by pain, listening to the sounds of “hacking and gurgling” as the novel coronavirus passed from bunk to bunk like a game of “sick hot potato,” he wrote in a Facebook post. Thompson lives in Marion’s dorm for disabled and older prisoners — a place he described to ProPublica in a phone call as the prison’s “old folks home” — where 199 inmates, many frail and some in wheelchairs, were isolated in a space designed for 170. As the disease spread among bunks spaced 3 or 4 feet apart, Thompson said he could see bedridden inmates with full-blown symptoms and others “in varying stages of recovery. While the rest of us are rarely 6 feet away from anyone else, sick or not.” (Lind, 6/18)
More Than 1 Out Of 3 Tested Federal Inmates Were Positive For Coronavirus
More than 35% of federal inmates who have tested for coronavirus were positive, according to data from The Bureau of Prisons. The agency says that of its 16,839 tested inmates, 6,060 have tested positive. In total, the BOP has tested more than 18,000 of its 163,441 federal inmates, with results pending in more than 2,300 cases. (Barr, 6/16)
San Francisco Chronicle:
Coronavirus Cases At San Quentin Soar To 190; ‘They’re Calling Man Down Every 20 Or 30 Minutes’
Now 159 prisoners have tested positive for the virus — a figure that has increased tenfold in the last two weeks, according to the state’s web tracker. In addition, more than 30 San Quentin employees have recently been infected. These numbers are likely to climb as the virus races through the aging, overcrowded structure. Interviews with inmates and staffers give a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the confusion and chaos that erupted behind bars as prison executives tried to keep a lid on a disaster of their own making. (Fagone and Cassidy, 6/20)
In other news on prisons —
ProPublica/Anchorage Daily News:
Her Addiction Landed Her In A Prison Segregation Wing. The Man She Says Abused Her Lives Free.
Two windows, each the size of a brick, show her sunrise and sunset. When the meal cart rolls to a stop outside her vault-like cell door, Ricki Dahlin knows it’s noon. This is how you tell time in the hole at Hiland Mountain Correctional Center. Hidden among the acres of skeletal birch and Christmas tree evergreens outside Anchorage, the prison houses 322 women convicts from across Alaska. Dahlin, a 28-year-old recovering addict, is a regular. (Hopkins, 6/20)