NYUJ: UPDATED DATA SHOWS NEW YORK STATE STILL DANGEROUSLY LAGS ON COVID-19 TESTS IN PRISONS; ADVOCATES URGE NYS TO ADOPT NEW COVID SAFETY PLAN

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 28, 2020 
Contact: Jessica Floyd | JFloyd@Skdknick.com | 

NYUJ: UPDATED DATA SHOWS NEW YORK STATE STILL DANGEROUSLY LAGS ON COVID-19 TESTS IN PRISONS; ADVOCATES URGE NYS TO ADOPT NEW COVID SAFETY PLAN

Latest Data Shows Data Shows New York’s prison testing rate (15.14%) is far below other states

NYUJ to New York State: Test Every Individual In The Prison System; Reduce the Existing Prison Population; Limit Incoming Detainees

NEW YORK – New Yorkers United for Justice (NYUJ) today called on New York State to implement new COVID-19 principles to safeguard the state’s criminal justice system during the pandemic. In the state comparison data collected by NYUJ, New York is testing the incarcerated population at limited rates (15.14%) and continues to trail states like Ohio, Michigan, California, Texas, New Jersey, Wisconsin, and Missouri. The alarming data details an underwhelming approach to prison safety during this global pandemic.

COVID-19 cannot be contained within state prisons; the spread of the virus behind bars threatens all communities. The lack of routine and consistent testing in New York state prisons remains a large blind spot that not only puts those who are incarcerated and work in corrections in danger – it threatens the success of New York’s reopening.

“COVID-19 unnecessarily claimed the life of another incarcerated New Yorker since we last assessed the state’s testing of its prison population. New York’s biggest oversight remains its limited COVID-19 testing in prisons, especially as the state continues to reopen regions where prison populations and correctional staff are concentrated,” said Khalil A. Cumberbatch, Chief Strategist at New Yorkers United for Justice. “The state has committed to testing millions, and that commitment needs to be extended to everyone behind prison walls. The recent testing of all incarcerated folks aged 55 and over was a step in the right direction, but one that should have come far sooner and should continuously occur as part of a larger plan. Incarcerated New Yorkers and correctional staff are disproportionately susceptible to COVID-19 as they live and work within confined spaces that make social distancing nearly impossible. Failure to accurately assess the spread of COVID in prisons across the state puts every New Yorker at risk as we reopen and prepare for the fall season. The Department of Corrections in conjunction with the Governor’s office needs a coordinated plan to address the ongoing pandemic.”

Furthermore, as New York lays out precautions for safely returning to restaurants, shops, and businesses throughout the state – we must be sure that the same precautions are taken in our entire criminal justice system to mitigate the spread of this deadly virus. Crowded courtrooms can contribute to virus transmission and can present enormous risks for all court personnel, lawyers, witnesses, accused persons, and the general public. The reopening of courts should be guided by independent medical advice. The recommended principles that NYUJ is urging the state to adopt 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 July 27, 2020

Prison System (Accessed  July 27) Incarcerated Positive Staff Positive Incarcerated Individual to Staff COVID ratio # of Tests for incarcerated population
Alabama 181 280 0.65 705
California 7,681 1,544 4.97 64,713
Connecticut 1,344 N/A N/A N/A
Delaware 503 158 3.18 N/A
Federal BOP 10,339 1,079 9.58 N/A
Florida 5,580 1,403 3.98 43,156
Georgia 853 425 2.00 N/A
Illinois 355 257 1.38 N/A
Indiana 730 339 2.15 2,276
Iowa 362 63 5.75 5,774
Kansas 911 123 7.41 N/A
Louisiana 829 286 2.90 2,141
Massachusetts* 651 365 1.78 N/A
Michigan 3,874 410 9.45 53,847
Missouri 457 103 4.44 18,616
Nevada 18 61 0.30 N/A
New Jersey 2,777 781 3.56 Reporting all incarcerated individuals tested.
New York 604 1308 0.46 5,812
Ohio 5,170 924 5.60 18,766
Oregon 364 101 3.60 2,294
Pennsylvania 298 215 1.40 7,696
South Carolina 729 252 2.90 N/A
Texas 13,601 2,939 4.63 154,652
Vermont 48 20 2.40 1,463
Wisconsin 297 106 2.80 25,022

 

*Data not updated since last entry.

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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 social economic status, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin or religion, must be the standard.