prison system

Five more state prisoners have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last two weeks. That's a total of nine prisoners and 19 corrections staff have tested positive since the pandemic began.

The prisoners whose results came back positive were tested prior to either being transferred or released.

After their results came back positive, the Department of Corrections quarantined more than 500 prisoners. A little over half of them were tested and most of those test results were negative. A handful of test results are still pending.

California will release up to 8,000 prisoners this summer in an effort to create more space and prevent the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 in prisons.

News of the plan comes after more than a third of the inmates and staff at the San Quentin State Prison in the San Francisco Bay Area tested positive for the coronavirus.

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections said in a statement last week there are some flaws in an analysis that claims eliminating sentence enhancements for nonviolent crimes would reduce the prison population and save the state up to $186 million in 10 years.

Sentence enhancements are a tool that allows courts to increase the maximum range of punishment for defendants who have prior convictions.

Two more state prisoners have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last week. That makes a total of four prisoners and 15 staff who have tested positive for the disease.

The first prisoner who tested positive is scheduled to be released from William S. Key Correctional Center in Fort Supply, Okla. this week. He was tested because it's the Oklahoma Department of Corrections’ policy to test prisoners shortly before they leave the agency’s custody.

Criminal justice reform activists believe a potential ballot question that calls for an end to rules that extend prison sentences for repeat offenders could reduce the state prison population by more than eight percent over time.

New analysis completed by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, a conservative think tank, suggests the changes in State Question 805 would save the state up to $186 million over 10 years.

Prisons across the country have placed prisoners on lockdown — they're kept in their cells mostly around-the-clock — as a way to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Now prison reformers are worried that the response has increased the use of a practice they've long fought: solitary confinement.

Federal Bureau of Prisons

There are nearly 100 COVID-19 positive prisoners and 3 positive employees inside two federal lockups in Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court is ordering the Secretary of State’s office to accept and count signatures demanding a felony sentencing reform question be added to the ballot this year.

The Secretary of State’s office said it wouldn’t accept more than 260,000 signatures supporting the ballot initiative because the work would put the office at risk of spreading coronavirus.

State Supreme Court justices decided the office hadn’t proven it couldn’t count the signatures safely.

Scottie Edwards died of COVID-19 just weeks before he would have gotten out of the Westville Correctional Facility in Indiana.

Edwards, 73, began showing symptoms of the disease in early April, according to the accounts of three inmates who lived with him in a dormitory. He was short of breath, had chest pain, and could barely talk. He was also dizzy, sweaty and throwing up.

Jobs For Felons Hub / Flickr

There are signs COVID-19 is spreading in Oklahoma's county jails. Over 100 prisoners have tested positive in Comanche County and one state prisoner sent to Grady County died from the disease. But, it’s still unclear how far the illness has spread in jails, because testing is limited.

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