How is the Coronavirus outbreak affecting inmates at prisons and detention centers in SC?
It’s something many people have not considered unless you have a family member locked up in a crowded jail with no opportunity to “social distance,” no hand sanitizer, and no face masks…
If someone is arrested for a non-violent crime, should they be punished first with the terror of a potentially lethal virus working its way towards them through a crowded jail, and then with the possibility of death or a protracted, painful illness that may involve intubation and weeks of suffering?
If you are someone who would say, “It doesn’t matter – you do the crime, you do the time. Should’ve thought about that before you bought those drugs,” have you considered the effect of a mass influx of sick inmates to the local ER, some of whom will require ventilators to survive, and who in many cases will be entering hospitals in small, rural communities with limited resources?
What is SC doing right now to prevent a catastrophe in our local jails and prisons? What should we be doing?
As of yesterday, SC is reporting only 13 presumed or confirmed cases of coronavirus in the Department of Corrections.
Just six days ago, the Department of Corrections was reporting that there were no cases of Coronavirus in the prison population, but that a corrections officer at Broad River Correctional Institution had tested positive:
An officer at Broad River Correctional Institution has tested positive for COVID-19 – the first reported case involving any correctional officer or inmate in the state’s prison system.
Are the numbers accurate?
A prison official says, “the agency has kits to test inmates and a quarantine plan in place if someone has symptoms and is tested.” There is a quarantine plan in place, but the agency declined to say what that plan is “due to security concerns.” However,
any inmates suspected of having the coronavirus [will] be tested, put in isolation and monitored for 14 days. Any prisons staff suspected of having the disease would be sent home and any inmate or staff members who came into contact with the person would be isolated and monitored.
What else are prisons and detention centers doing and is it enough?
The procedures and response at local jails are determined, in part, by the Sheriff’s Offices who are responsible for the facilities, and there have been mixed responses from different counties – some are working with courts, prosecutors, and defense attorneys to release at least some non-violent offenders or inmates who are particularly vulnerable due to age or health conditions.
For others, it’s business as usual. Some counties have even been serving old warrants (because they suddenly have time on their hands?), increasing their jail populations…
According to the Department of Corrections, the statewide response in SC prisons as of yesterday includes:
Is this enough to prevent the spread of the disease through the prison population, the deaths and suffering it will bring, and the potential for in