Alabama’s prison system predicts widespread coronavirus infections, says internal document

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The Alabama state penitentiary system predicts many cases of coronavirus and hundreds of deaths, according to an internal document from the State Corrections Department obtained by AL.com.

The 263-page pandemic document predicts that the worst-case scenario for a coronavirus epidemic in the state prison system, which detains nearly 22,000 inmates, will result in approximately 185 deaths.

The Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) has stated that in this scenario it will seek assistance from the National Guard to fill the staffing gap.

The April 1 document indicates that the physical design of the prisons, severe overcrowding and understaffing could make it impossible to stop the spread of the virus among prisoners and staff, according to AL.com.

The ministry also plans to pay $ 2.3 million for supplies needed to respond, such as personal protective equipment, drugs and body bags, according to the document signed by Ruth Naglich, associate commissioner for health services.

The plan stipulates that all detainees suspected of having COVID-19 or those who have just arrived should be quarantined, but recognizes that some prisons will not have room for this.

ADOC commissioner Jefferson Dunn told AL.com that the ministry is doing everything it can to prevent a widespread epidemic.

“The number one thing in my mind is security, doing our best to prevent the virus from entering the facility and then mitigating the impact,” he said.

The department did not report any prisoners diagnosed with COVID-19, although two staff were found to be positive. Twenty-one prisoners have been tested, and nine cases are still pending, according to his website.

Two Alabama prisons sew face masks for other inmates and prison staff across the state. They are expected to produce 2,000 to 2,500 masks a day, AL.com reported.

Some experts have proposed that Alabama follow in the footsteps of other states and release certain subgroups of prisoners to reduce overcrowding, such as those who are elderly, who have serious health problems or who have little time to devote to their grief.

California, Michigan, New Jersey and New York have designated populations to release prisons.



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