During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Daily Appeal will offer a roundup of stories about the effect on marginalized and vulnerable people, and their struggle for safety and well-being.
The federal Bureau of Prisons announces a 14-day lockdown: Twenty-nine people in federal custody and 30 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19, according to figures released yesterday by the Bureau of Prisons, and the number of people actually infected is assumed to be much higher. One person incarcerated in federal prison in Louisiana, Patrick Jones, died Saturday from the disease. Of the approximately 167,000 people in federal custody, 10,000 are over the age of 60, and public health experts and other experts have called on President Trump, the rest of the executive branch, and Congress to act quickly to release the most vulnerable people. Instead, the Bureau of Prisons has announced that, starting today, all people in federal custody will be confined to their cells or quarters for at least 14 days in an effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. [Josh Gerstein / Politico] On Twitter, Solitary Watch characterized it as “for 2 weeks, 175,000 people will be put in solitary confinement.”
A ‘failure to appreciate the public health disaster unfolding before our eyes,’ says Rikers’s chief medical officer: Ross McDonald, the chief medical officer of New York City’s correctional health system, assailed the city’s five district attorneys Monday on Twitter for their criticisms of the release of some people held in city jails in response to medical and public health concerns. In a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio, the district attorneys sought assurances that the city’s jail system “is capable of appropriately managing the health needs” of those who are still in custody. McDonald, who has called for large-scale releases as an appropriate response to the crisis, responded that despite the heroic efforts of correctional health staff, the crisis has and will deepen. As of Monday, 167 incarcerated people and 137 corrections staff members and health workers had tested positive for the virus. More than 800 people are in quarantine at the Rikers Island jail complex. Social distancing is impossible for the rest. A report by the Legal Aid Society found that the rate of infection at Rikers was nearly nine times that in New York City, the worst affected city in the world. [Meagan Flynn / Washington Post]