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Prisoner Advocates Raise Concerns Over Conditions During Pandemic

Oklahoma Department of Corrections
An inmate at Eddie Warrior Correctional Center in Taft, Okla. sews masks in April 2020.

Oklahoma prisoner advocates say the conditions in a women's prison in the east-central town of Taft are unacceptable during a pandemic.

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections reports 626 COVID-19 cases inside Eddie Warrior Correctional Center as of Wednesday. It’s the most confirmed cases in a single prison since the start of the pandemic.

A formerly incarcerated woman who tested positive for COVID at the prison told The Tulsa World that social distancing was nonexistent. Carla Sleight said people get reinfected and that prisoners aren't given prompt medical care when they ask for it.

Justin Wolf, a Department of Corrections spokesperson, said prisoners do receive medication and medical staff make rounds on the prison’s multiple units.

Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform Board member Susan Esco told the Tulsa newspaper she’s concerned by prisoner complaints of small food portions. She believes a staff shortage and limited access to outdoor space is increasing the chances prisoners will catch COVID.

Corrections staff dispute the complaints and say the agency is taking multiple precautions against COVID.

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