Sunday, September 26

Second wave of COVID-19 hits New York jails hard with 120 new cases in just six days

Confirmation of 120 new cases of COVID-19 in seven state prisons, in the last six days, activated the alarms of defense organizations prison population in New York, which again demanded the governor Andrew Cuomo and Albany legislators initiate a “immediate process of pardons that save lives ”.

“They must take action in the prisons of the state of New York. Must be approved parole for the elderly, fair and timely probation, as well as legislation to prohibit solitary confinement. Without swift and bold action, the virus will continue to spread and the inmates will continue to die, “a group of coalitions expressed this Friday together.

Currently there has been an increase in coronavirus infections in correctional facilities of Attica, Bedford Hills, Clinton, Woodbourne, Groveland, Cayuga y Walsh, when the entire state faces a ascending second wave of infections.

Organizations that jointly raised this petition, such as the Center for Community Alternatives, the Campaign to Free the Elderly in Prison, the Probation Preparation Project, the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, the Solitary Confinement Campaign, La Hora Nueva and also, had warned about the advance of COVID-19 in prisons before the fall.

Power of mercy

These organizations this week renewed their lobbying campaigns for Governor Cuomo to use his “Power of clemency” and reduce the population of the elderly and immunosuppressed in prison. They also mediate for all people who are one year away from completing their sentence to be released.

In addition, they require the State legislature minimize the prison population, while requiring that they do not show up more people to the system during the pandemic.

Public health experts have warned that to reduce transmission of the virus, prisons must be reduced to the 50 percent of its capacity.

“In the midst of the pandemic, Governor Andrew Cuomo has granted three total clemency to New Yorkers in prison, that is scandalously minor to these procedural benefits approved by President Donald Trump, and governors in other states of the country such as California, Illinois, Oklahoma y Kentucky”, Specifies the statement of this Friday.

The bloc organizations assure that the state government instead of granting more pardons “has sentenced thousands to solitary confinement, which only exacerbates the damage and spread of COVID-19 ”.

In parallel, before the start of the vaccination plan against COVID-19, the American Medical Association and the John Hopkins Center for Health Security, advocate for swift immunization of people imprisoned and detained due to the reality of the conditions in which they live. In prison, they are unable to maintain social distancing and often they do not have access to adequate medical care.

To Cape and sword

Anthony Annucci, Commissioner of the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision of the State (DOCCS) has defended tooth and nail the procedures to control the virus in prisons.

“As the pandemic was better understood, we are rigorous with control, distancing, testing and remediation actions. Today we have very efficient procedures that include isolation in housing units for those who test positive for COVID-19, without preventing them from communicating with their relatives through digital tablets, ”argued the official.

Also, Annucci specified in a legislative session a couple of weeks ago that based on the standards of the Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) and the state’s virus containment policies, they have a very clear strategy to follow. before the second wave in autumn or winter.

“We have been a national model of COVID-19 control within correctional facilities. With one of the lower mortality rates. Obviously, a single death weighs on us, but progress has been clear, ”he reiterated.

The newspaper It got no comment from the DOCCS head on this outbreak of cases reported this week.

Waiting for parole:

There are thousands of people in New York State prisons who are eligible for parole, age 50 or older, incarcerated for a technical non-criminal violation of parole and / or within one year of their release date:

  • 4,022 inmates already eligible for parole.
  • 3,305 people arrested for violation of technical probation.
  • 8,291 inmates 50 years or older.
  • 6,524 deprived of liberty are within one year of their maximum release.
  • 5 women with babies who are part of the Bedford Hills daycare program.
  • 1 pregnant woman.

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