NYUJ TESTING UPDATE: NEW YORK STATE PRISONS ONLY TESTS 23 IN ONE WEEK — .06% OF THE ENTIRE DOCCS POPULATION; COALITION URGES NYS INCREASE TESTING, NOT SLOW DOWN

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 8, 2020 
Contact: Jessica Floyd | JFloyd@Skdknick.com | 

NYUJ TESTING UPDATE: NEW YORK STATE PRISONS ONLY TESTS 23 IN ONE WEEK — .06% OF THE ENTIRE DOCCS POPULATION; COALITION URGES NYS INCREASE TESTING, NOT SLOW DOWN

New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision Has Only Tested 23 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 combat coronavirus throughout the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS). Since last week, DOCCS administered tests to only 23 incarcerated individuals, which is less than one percent of the incarcerated population. Any viable plan from DOCCS must include testing every incarcerated individual to establish a baseline of viral impact. New York’s data continues to detail an increasingly negligent approach to prison safety during this global pandemic. New Yorkers United for Justice has called for not only a policy change since March, but a publicly disclosed plan to prevent the spread of coronavirus in correctional facilities and the statewide criminal justice system.

“Continuing to drag feet on administering COVID-19 tests to the state’s incarcerated population, six months into a global pandemic, is irresponsible and dangerous. Medical experts could not be more clear on how essential testing, on a rolling-basis, is as a preventive and deterrent measure. Yet in a state where testing capacity exceeds the prison population many times over, DOCCS continues to test a sliver of all incarcerated New Yorkers.” said  Khalil A. Cumberbatch, Senior Advisor at New Yorkers United for Justice. “At the start of the pandemic, COVID-19 was considered the great equalizer, but we know the responses of governments and communities prove otherwise. Everyone in New York,  including incarcerated individuals, should have access to testing and a publicly released action plan to address their community’s unique exposure to the virus. DOCCS is posing an undue risk on the public by not grasping the viral impact in our state’s prisons.”

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 September 8, 2020

Prison System (Accessed  Sep. 8, 2020) Incarcerated Positive Staff Positive Incarcerated Individual to Staff COVID ratio # of Tests for incarcerated population
Alabama 359 367 0.98 1,848
California 11,388 2,284 4.99 88,906
Delaware 530 170 3.12 N/A
Federal BOP 12,897 1,628 7.92 51,356
Florida 15,632 2,698 5.79 79,763
Georgia 1,727 814 2.12 N/A
Illinois 1,230 593 2.07 N/A
Indiana 1,029 433 2.38 4,069
Iowa 809 117 6.91 10,653
Kansas 1,573 232 6.78 N/A
Louisiana 1,910 423 4.52 5,422
Michigan 5,234 479 10.93 69,292
Missouri 953 340 2.80 26,589
Nevada 26 110 0.24 12,368
New Jersey 2,885 1,000 2.89 Phase 2 testing, testing all individuals who tested negative in Phase 1.
New York 755 1,320 0.57 8,585
Ohio 5,928 1,084 5.47 26,208
Oregon 776 214 3.63 4,210
Pennsylvania 332 245 1.36 13,189
South Carolina 1,886 450 4.19 N/A
Texas 19,710 4,355 4.53 193,785
Vermont 55 22 2.50 1,738
Wisconsin 832 229 3.63 32,007

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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.