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NEWS

Short Update: US prisoners describe testing conditions in prisons as COVID-19 cases rise sharply

FT Admin - June 17, 2020 - COVID-19 Updates, prison conditions

COVID-19 cases in prisons and jails across the US have risen sharply over the last few weeks, despite cases across the country staying generally the same.  The number of prison inmates known to be infected has doubled during the past month to more than 68,000. COVID-19-related prison deaths have also risen by more than 73%. This has been exacerbated by inconsistent and confused testing strategies in prisons, described as “largely based on trial and error”. 

US inmates have described their experiences in prison during the COVID-19 pandemic. In New Mexico, prisoners described not being tested for COVID-19, despite asking medical staff and corrections officers, and being told there are only “a certain amount of tests”. Other inmates describe the extreme anxiety and stress about their family’s health while in prison, unable to do anything, compounded by the lack of communication from prison officials. Prisoners say they get no updates about who’s being tested, when they’re being tested or how many positive cases there are, with one being told “You’re just an inmate, I don’t have to explain myself to you.” 

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