ACLU and Council of Prison Locals Call for Mass Testing of all Employees and Incarcerated People as Over 5,000 Correctional Officers Test Positive for COVID-19

Groups Also Call for Extreme Proactive Measures for Most Vulnerable to COVID-19 Infection

May 7, 2020 4:00 pm

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WASHINGTON — As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on prisons and jails across the country and during National Correctional Officers and Employees Week, over 5,000 state and federal correctional officers have tested positive for the virus, with New York being the state with the most cases. In response, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Council of Prison Locals, which represents more than 30,000 workers in the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), is issuing a call for BOP to immediately institute mass testing of all prison employees and incarcerated people and extreme proactive measures for those who are most vulnerable to COVID-19 infection. The best way to recognize corrections officers during National Correctional Officers week is to honor the safety of officers and maximize the level of health and safety within our correctional facilities.

The ACLU recently released an epidemiological model that shows that as many as 200,000 people could die from COVID-19 — double the government’s estimate — if we continue to ignore jails and prisons in our public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU, and Shane Fausey, president of the Council of Prison Locals C-33 issued the following statement:

“The recently released numbers highlight one of the reasons jails and prisons across the country comprise 6 of the 10 largest hotspots of COVID-19 infection, putting both those who work and are incarcerated in them at increased risk of contracting this deadly disease. We believe that there are likely thousands of additional cases among officers and incarcerated people that haven’t been reported because of the lack of testing.

“In order to keep our communities, correctional employees, and incarcerated individuals safe from the scourge of COVID-19, the Federal Bureau of Prisons and State Departments of Corrections across the country must immediately conduct mass testing of all employees and incarcerated people and take other extreme proactive measures for those most vulnerable to COVID-19. Anything less than immediate drastic action constitutes a lack of regard for the lives of tens of thousands of correctional professionals and millions of incarcerated people and their families.”

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