According to the Marshall Project, as of April 13, 2021 there have been 394,994 cases of COVID in prisons in the United States. The worst state is California, with 49,215 cases; 4,184 per 10,000 prisoners. The best being Maine with 170 cases at all.
The first positive COVID-19 case death was in Georgia on March 26th. The Prisoner was 49 years old and was housed in Lee State Prison. Since then there have been at least 2,564 prisoner virus related deaths.
The state with the most prisoner deaths is California with 220 and the best being Vermont with zero deaths.
In my home state of Oregon there have been 3,580 prisoner COVID cases, 42 deaths have occurred.
Prison staff has also been affected by the virus. Prison staff can be guards, chaplains, counselors, nurses, and so on. In the country there have been 109,587 cases. 86,262 recovered and 199 deaths. The week of January 19, 2021 being the worst on record.
Thank you again to the Marshall Project for tracking all of this information.
Most prisons have taken extreme measures by keeping prisoners in their cells more than normal. A very limited amount of yard time, time to call their families, to shower, etc. is allowed and when they are allowed out they have to socially distance from one another. Only a small amount of prisoners are allowed out at one time. Why should we care, they committed crimes, right? They’re human beings, that’s why. If we expect people to rehabilitate they have to still be treated as people. How would you handle being in a 6×8 room for 23 hours a day? Not well, that’s for sure.
Thankfully, prisons have offered vaccines to prisoners and staff, that’s a subject for another post though.
Some prisons were and currently still are releasing inmates early. Usually those with less severe crimes or near ending their sentence anyway. Some prisons have the goal of limiting inmate bunkmates to two a cell or even one a cell. Some inmates are given a tablet or some form of entertainment to pacify their behavior.
With this information what do we do?
States across the country are having problems managing the virus without the complications of prison. When the weather was colder, and the cases rose at a horrible rate. With the weather becoming warmer the cases are still climbing at an alarming rate. Is this cruel and unusual punishment? Should people care that criminals are dealing with the virus on a terrifying level? What about the employees that work with inmates? What about the staff’s family? What about the staff’s community.
This proves that not every prisoner needs to be in prison. If we can release them early and they receive treatment and probation early because of a pandemic then as a society we should lessen or remove time for the least dangerous prisoners and focus more on rehabilitation and improvement practices. Rehabilitation is so important to building people back up and making them productive members of society.
I can understand the most violent and dangerous staying incarcerated. However, white collar crimes, those who have shown reform, those within two years of being released, nonviolent offenders, and more should be re-evaluated for early release. There are restorative justice programs to make sure inmates and parolees bring justice and amends to their victims.
These people could be put on ankle monitors and observed. Ankle monitors are cheaper daily per prisoner than housing even one prisoner. Removing people from the prison system right now could be a matter of life and death for the prisoner, the employee, the employee’s family, and society.
In other countries they are shutting down prisons, because they have found rehabilitation centers. They fill in the gaps and repair the roots of what causes people to commit crimes. We can do that in this country. We can do better. We can have prison reform and actually help people.
If you keep telling someone they’re worthless they’ll eventually believe it. If you repair the root causes of crime, fill in gaps, give emotional support then the individual improves, the recidivism cycle is broken, the taxpayer pays less into the prison complex system, and society as a whole is safer and better off. We should build people up.
My heart goes out to the victims and their families of COVID. My heart goes out to the victims and their families of prisoners and staff who have contracted COVID.
If you’re interested in learning more about this topic please visit the source I went to: www.themarshallproject.org
Thank you for your time in reading this.
Have a good day,