Cases of the novel coronavirus in American prisons and jails have doubled over the last month.
There are more than 68,000 inmates confirmed to have contracted
COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, reported The New York Times.
According to the newspaper, the five largest-known clusters across the
country are in correctional institutions, prison complexes and jails.
The Times reports that the largest cluster is at the Marion Correctional Institution in Marion, Ohio, with nearly 2,500 cases.
In the same state, at the Pickaway Correctional Institution in Scioto Township, there are more than 1,700 confirmed infections.
This means there are some prisons in the US that have more cases of the virus than in entire countries.
For example, Cyprus, with a population of about 1.17 million, has only had 985 cases of COVID-19.
Additionally, in New Zealand, which had an infamous two-week run of no cases, only 1,156 people have contracted the virus.
Part of the problem is that the pandemic has been particularly challenging for inmates inside jails and prisons.
Many correctional facilities are overcrowded or have common areas where social distancing cannot be practiced.
There is often insufficient amounts of soap in bathroom to wash their
hands and a lack of access to cleaning supplies such as hand sanitizer
As states have ramped up testing, it’s become more clear how widespread the problem is.
In Texas, more than 7,400 inmates have tested positive for the virus,
and at least 54 prisoners and eight staff members have died from it.
Meanwhile, New York has tested just 1,200 of it’s approximately 40,000
inmates, but about 40 percent of those tested are confirmed to have
According to the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, 16 inmates and five workers have died from COVID-19.
‘We have really no true idea of how bad the problem is because most
places are not yet testing the way they should,’ Dr Homer Venters,
former chief medical officer for the New York City jail system, told The
‘I think a lot of times some of the operational challenges of either not
having adequate quarantine policies or adequate medical isolation
policies are so vexing that places simply decide that they can just
throw up their hands.’
This has led to thousands of prisoners across the country being freed in
an effort to stop an outbreak from occurring behind bars.
However, victims are often left angry that perpetrators are walking free
and people in neighborhoods are worried about crime spikes.
So, some prisons have turned to a different method
A new report from Unlock the Box, a coalition fighting against solitary
confinement, say more prisoners are being kept in isolation to prevent
The report says that before the pandemic, 60,000 people were in solitary
confinement. Now, it’s up to around 300,000 people – a 400 percent
Advocates disagree that this is an appropriate solution and are worried
that the restrictions will remain for many prisoners even after the
pandemic is over.