NYUJ REVEALS: NEW YORK STATE CONTINUES TO OFFER DISMAL COVID-19 TESTS IN PRISONS — ONLY 27 TESTS IN ONE WEEK; COALITION URGES NYS TO PRESENT COVID SAFETY PLAN AND EXPAND TESTING TO ALL

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 1, 2020
Contact: Jessica Floyd | JFloyd@Skdknick.com |

NYUJ REVEALS: NEW YORK STATE CONTINUES TO OFFER DISMAL COVID-19 TESTS IN PRISONS — ONLY 27 TESTS IN ONE WEEK; COALITION URGES NYS TO PRESENT COVID SAFETY PLAN AND EXPAND TESTING TO ALL

New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision Has Only Tested 27 Incarcerated Individuals in the Last Week — DOCCS Testing Continues to Trail Statewide Capacity

NYUJ to New York State: Test Every Individual In The Prison System and Present a Plan to Address COVID-19 in the Criminal Justice System

NEW YORK – New Yorkers United for Justice (NYUJ) today called on New York State to present a transparent plan to tackle coronavirus throughout the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS). Since last week, DOCCS administered tests to only 27 incarcerated individuals. The cornerstone of any viable plan from DOCCS must include testing every incarcerated individual. New York’s data continues to detail an exceedingly underwhelming approach to prison safety during this global pandemic. Until recently New York State only tested incarcerated individuals with COVID-19 symptoms. Despite public health officials’ strong recommendations to test asymptomatic individuals and those with symptoms, New York continues to test its incarcerated population at limited rates (22.79%). New Yorkers United for Justice has called for not only a policy change since March, but a publicly unveiled plan to combat the spread of coronavirus in correctional facilities and the statewide criminal justice system.

“This week, the New York Times reported that the top clusters across the country have one thing in common — they are all correctional facilities. While New York State touts that it is testing hundreds of thousands weekly across the state, it only tested 27 incarcerated individuals since last week, according to DOCCS. Right now, the intersection of hotspots and the divergence of New York’s pandemic response show unequivocally that the absence of a transparent plan to combat the pandemic in prisons is unconscionable and negligent,” said  Khalil A. Cumberbatch, Senior Advisor at New Yorkers United for Justice. “New York State’s uneven response to the pandemic as it concerns the state’s incarcerated population is an outrage and stain on the state’s public health record. New York is considered a leader in the fight against COVID-19, and has even expanded its testing capacity to accommodate millions. But as we hit the six month mark of the pandemic, DOCCS officials continue to sit on their hands as tens of thousands of incarcerated New Yorkers fear for their lives and are left to roll the dice in COVID-19 hotspots. We continue to call on the state to provide a comprehensive and transparent plan to keep incarcerated individuals safe.”

Prisons are just one facet of the criminal justice system that must be addressed. Crowded courtrooms, for example, can contribute to virus transmission and can present enormous risks for all court personnel, lawyers, witnesses, accused persons, and the general public. NYUJ has developed recommended principles for the state’s justice system to minimize the risk of renewed outbreaks by relying on post COVID practices in policing, sentencing, incarceration, and supervision.

COVID Cases Among Incarcerated Individuals and Correctional Staff
Updated on August 31, 2020

Prison System (Accessed  Aug. 31, 2020) Incarcerated Positive Staff Positive Incarcerated Individual to Staff COVID ratio # of Tests for incarcerated population
Alabama 342 361 0.95 1,692
California 10,574 2,563 4.13 86,198
Delaware 530 169 3.14 N/A
Federal BOP 12,308 1,585 7.77 48,776
Florida 15,501 2,556 6.06 79,546*
Georgia 1,592 758 2.10 N/A
Illinois 901 511 1.76 N/A
Indiana 1,010 419 2.41 3,857
Iowa 656 111 5.91 9,630
Kansas 1,409 173 8.14 N/A
Louisiana 1,460 404 3.61 4,971
Michigan 5,136 443 11.59 67,184
Missouri 934 307 3.04 26,589
Nevada 26 101 0.26 N/A
New Jersey 2,884* 1,000 2.88 Phase 2 testing, testing all individuals who tested negative in Phase 1.
New York 755 1319 0.57 8,562
Ohio 5,871 1,067 5.50 25,259
Oregon 665 190 3.50 3,627
Pennsylvania 303 239 1.27 11,367
South Carolina 1,506 412 3.66 N/A
Texas 19,599 4,265 4.60 188,613
Vermont*** 55 22 2.50 1,690
Wisconsin 715 201 3.56 29,368

* Figure reported lower than reported in last analysis – reason for discrepancy cannot be properly attributed.

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About New Yorkers United for Justice (NYUJ):
New Yorkers United for Justice is a statewide coalition comprised of local and national non-profit organizations committed to supporting a movement that will bring much-needed criminal justice reform to New York State and ensure that policies promote safety and fairness. NYUJ aims for legislative urgency to fix a broken criminal justice system that punishes the poor and communities of color, tears families apart, and makes New Yorkers less safe. NYUJ believes that a system that ensures equal access to justice for anyone accused in New York State, regardless of age, race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin or religion, must be the standard.