Tests of people with symptoms in state prisons and New York City prisons have revealed thousands of COVID-19 infections among inmates and guards, who called the state and the New York City to act at a legislative hearing Tuesday.
Inmates struggled to socially distance themselves, wash their hands, access hand sanitizer and get their hands on masks and other masks early in the pandemic, according to Jermaine Barrett, who said he was released July 28 from a maximum security prison north of New York City.
“In the beginning, when it was all closed, we were more or less on our own,” Barrett said.
Prisoners are slowly being released from prisons across the tri-state as correctional officials sound the alarm bells about the rapid march of the coronavirus through our prisons. In New York City, at least 27 prisoners have been released and 200 more are flagged for release. In New Jersey, up to 1,000 may soon be released. Read on for more details. Ted greenberg
And guards have been forced to work overtime amid severe staff shortages, as their union in New York City sued the city for providing masks, tests and more disinfection in prisons.
“I have not, to date, seen a written action plan from DOC to ensure that the litany of mistakes made the first time around never happens again,” said Benny Boscio, president of the union representing the agents. correction of the city. the city’s correctional service.
Other unions and reform groups have urged New York to demand regular COVID-19 testing, improve ventilation systems, increase funding and recruitment for correctional health care services, and ensure that all guards and inmates wear masks.
In March and April, correctional officials scrambled to contain a virus known to spread rapidly in enclosed and crowded spaces. In New York City alone, more than 1,400 prison staff and 570 people in jails have tested positive for COVID-19, according to city data.
This is in addition to more than 1,300 staff and 773 inmates in state prisons, according to the State Department of Corrections. And about 400 prison officers and 200 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 in county jails outside of New York City.
Still, state officials, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo, said New York appears to have avoided concerns about widespread deaths behind bars this year, as the number of inmates has dropped to around 37,000 inmates. .
This is the lowest level since 1986, according to Interim Correctional Service and Community Supervision Commissioner Anthony Annucci.
New York has reported that 17 inmates and five state prison staff have died after testing positive for COVID-19, according to the State Department of Corrections.
New York City prisons have reported the deaths of four inmates and 10 staff from COVID-19, according to the latest state data provided to The Associated Press. Other county jails have not reported any deaths related to COVID-19.
Tents have been set up in the courtyard of San Quentin State Prison to treat inmates with COVID-19. At least 1,011 cases of the virus have been reported.
New York City corrections officials and criminal justice groups have hailed the state’s efforts to free nearly 3,000 prisoners on their own amid the pandemic, in addition to a new law this year that abolished the cash bond for most crimes.
But critics worried about the increase in incarceration in New York City prisons have urged state lawmakers to further reduce incarceration by expanding parole for the elderly, and have criticized Cuomo for failing to to have granted only three clemencies in the pandemic.
Cynthia Carter-Young said her brother Leonard Carter, 60, died of COVID-19 on April 14 while in the Queensboro Correctional Center – weeks before his release date.
“While nothing can bring my brother back, New York City can take steps to make sure other families don’t suffer from the pain my family has been through,” she said during a testimony to the state legislators.