As the US continues its uphill fight against Covid-19, correctional facilities have been greatly affected because it does not grant space for social distancing. As a result, in one federal prison in Texas, more than 75% of its inmates have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
The numbers are both shocking and understandable at the same time. Faced with a virus that has already claimed the lives of more than 160,000 Americans, inmates who are locked together in tight quarters are inevitably in a vulnerable spot.
At FCI Seagoville, 1,300 prisoners out of its 1,750 have tested positive for Covid-19. Of them, 3 have died from the virus. In telephone interviews with CNN, at least 5 inmates said that they feared for their lives as they are “packed liked sardines” inside the facility.
One inmate, who had a weak immune system due to diseases, said there is no way that he would survive should he contract the virus. He also worried that it will only be a matter of time before he contracts the virus by the many around him who have already tested positive.
Questions are being raised as to whether enough is being done to prevent the spread of the virus. Several high-profile prisoners, from politico Paul Manafort to rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine, have already been relocated to serve time in their own homes.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) said that it is taking all the necessary measures to ensure that both the inmates and officers be protected from the virus. At the same time, it denied reporters from interviewing any officers of FCI Seagoville.
One doctor who was previously in charge of New York City’s prison system’s health conditions said that the instance in Texas has already happened or is bound to happen, calling it a tragedy.
Advocates criticized the BOP, saying that it was too slow and ineffective in implementing the surefire way of preventing the spread of the pandemic – having less people in the already crowded prisons.
Although the organization said that it was evaluating and selecting the vulnerable inmates to be sent to home confinement, less than 7,500 out of 157,000 federal prisoners were sent to their homes since the pandemic began to rage in the US.
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