The lies they tell: COVID-19 inside our prisons

What has our government really done to prevent the spread of this deadly pandemic in America’s prison system?

Currently, the nation’s top five COVID-19 hot spots are all correctional facilities, according to data collected by The Times. The number of infected inmates and workers has topped 70,000—the count doubled between mid-May and mid-June—and there have been at least 627 virus-related deaths.

A Minnesota prison inmate has died after testing positive for COVID-19 in early June. The Minnesota Department of Corrections said Adrian Raymaar Keys, 43, died Tuesday night at a hospital. Keys was an inmate at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Faribault and tested positive for COVID-19 along with a number of other men incarcerated at Faribault on June 4

So, the question arises, what are we really doing to help and prevent the spread of this deadly disease to the human beings who are incarcerated in our prisons? These are the same prisons that the families of these inmates pay hard-earned tax dollars to provide for the safety and wellbeing of their loved ones. The situation inside the nation’s jails and prisons amid the COVID-19 pandemic has become the stuff of nightmares.

Overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, shortages of protective equipment, and restrictions on hygiene products such as hand sanitizer have turned detention facilities into a playground for the virus and a death trap for inmates, many of them, because of age or pre-existing conditions, at elevated risk for complications.

This is a profoundly serious problem that cannot be overlooked. The testing and care for inmates and workers is complicating the spread of the coronavirus. In interviews, prison and jail officials acknowledged that their approach has largely been based on trial and error, and that an effective, consistent response for U.S. correctional facilities remains elusive.

There is fear among inmates who say the authorities have done too little to protect them. There have been riots and hunger strikes in prisons from Washington State to New York. Even the known case numbers are most likely a significant undercount because testing has been extremely limited inside prisons and because some places that test do not release the results to the public.

WHAT ARE THE REAL NUMBERS? No one really knows, but it has definitely become a secret of lies and deceit!

Anthony Goodshield
Bloomington, MN

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