TESTING OUTRAGE: NEW YORK STATE PRISONS ADDED ONLY 14 COVID-19 TESTS SINCE LAST WEEK — .04% OF THE ENTIRE DOCCS POPULATION; NYUJ COALITION URGES NYS INCREASE TESTING IMMEDIATELY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 15, 2020 
Contact: Jessica Floyd | JFloyd@Skdknick.com | 

TESTING OUTRAGE: NEW YORK STATE PRISONS ADDED ONLY 14 COVID-19 TESTS SINCE LAST WEEK — .04% OF THE ENTIRE DOCCS POPULATION; NYUJ COALITION URGES NYS INCREASE TESTING IMMEDIATELY

New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision Has Only Tested 14 Incarcerated Individuals in the Last Week — DOCCS Testing Pales Compared to 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 address the life threatening humanitarian crisis in the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) – following news that DOCCS tested only 14 incarcerated individuals, which is significantly lower than one percent of the state’s incarcerated population. New York continues to see more correctional staff test positive than incarcerated individuals – a trend that runs counter to every state in our analysis outside of Nevada. Considering there are far more incarcerated individuals than staff and the rate at which staff interact with the incarcerated population, the data indicates grave undertesting.

NYUJ calls for DOCCS to present a comprehensive, transparent plan that includes administering COVID-19 tests to all incarcerated individuals, to combat coronavirus throughout the department. Any substantial plan from DOCCS must include testing every incarcerated individual to establish a baseline of viral impact and continuing to conduct follow up exams to monitor the threat of coronavirus in state correctional facilities. New York’s data shows an increasingly negligent approach to prison safety during this global pandemic. New Yorkers United for Justice has called for not only a mass testing since March, but a publicly disclosed plan to prevent the spread of coronavirus in correctional facilities and the statewide criminal justice system.

“The latest numbers continue to be troubling. Offering tests to the public while not administering them in prisons is counterproductive to the state’s fight to prevent another virus outbreak. Right now, correctional and civilian staff members are traveling between their homes in communities and jobs in prisons where COVID-19 cases remain unknown and untracked. To protect all communities, DOCCS needs to present a transparent plan that includes testing all incarcerated populations and following up tests regularly,” said  Khalil A. Cumberbatch, Senior Advisor at New Yorkers United for Justice. “State officials must act upon the advice of public health experts — consistently test all incarcerated New Yorkers. During this pandemic, everyone’s well being is dependent on their neighbors’ health — this is especially the case for those who interact with the criminal justice system. We must do everything we can to be vigilant of a virus that spreads through asymptomatic individuals. In prisons, an easily transmitted virus presents a far higher risk  due to living conditions that make socially distancing impossible. DOCCS has a responsibility to incarcerated New Yorkers, their loved ones and the public at large to prevent the spread of the virus and untimely deaths.”

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 14, 2020

Prison System (Accessed  Sep. 14, 2020) Incarcerated Positive Staff Positive Incarcerated Individual to Staff COVID ratio # of Tests for incarcerated population
Alabama 393 374 1.05 1,908
California 12,056 3,312 3.64 90,307
Delaware* 530 170 3.12 N/A
Federal BOP 13,242 1,675 7.91 53,191
Florida 15,812 2,836 5.58 79,687
Georgia 1,752 820 2.14 N/A
Illinois 1,313 650 2.02 N/A
Indiana 1,116 445 2.51 4,360
Iowa 833 127 6.56 11,201
Kansas 1,750 238 7.35 N/A
Louisiana 2,046 452 4.53 5,486
Michigan 5,428 488 11.12 75,402
Missouri 1,128 374 3.02 26,965
Nevada 26 115 0.23 12,368
New Jersey** 2,778 944 2.94 Phase 2 testing, testing all individuals who tested negative in Phase 1.
New York 755 1,324 0.57 8,598
Ohio 6,077 1,109 5.48 28,164
Oregon 852 224 3.80 4,485
Pennsylvania 364 257 1.42 13,189
South Carolina 1,993 461 4.32 N/A
Texas 20,647 4,438 4.65 195,558
Vermont 55 22 2.50 1,785
Wisconsin 907 244 3.72 35,909

* No new information provided
** NJ DOCs updated data due to lab discrepancies

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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.