prison system

Matthew Ansley / Unsplash

State prisons are isolating prisoners in their cells to limit opportunities for coronavirus to spread.

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections says the new measure, normally reserved to prevent prison violence, is aggressive but necessary. The prison agency says its staff will bring prisoners their food, medicine and other necessities to prevent groups of prisoners from gathering.

The U.S. Justice Department is offering state, municipal and tribal public safety agencies across the country money to help respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

Oklahoma agencies could get more than $11 million to pay for agencies’ response to the coronavirus. Overtime pay for police and medical personnel, masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and medical care for prisoners are examples of allowed expenses. Agencies can even use the money to make up for past coronavirus expenses dating back to late January.

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections is distributing 28,000 face masks to state and private prisons after a staff member at Joseph Harp Correctional Facility in Lexington tested positive for COVID-19. The masks were provided by the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

Prisoners employed by Oklahoma Correctional Industries were already sewing 1,200 cloth masks a day and making hand sanitizer for use inside the state's corrections facilities.

Matthew Ansley / Unsplash

Fewer people are being arrested and sent to jail in the United States, but Oklahoma seems to defy the trend.

Flickr / Wesley Fryer

Criminal justice reform advocates are doubling down on their requests to send some state prisoners home during the Coronavirus pandemic. They want the Governor Kevin Stitt to approve the releases for more than 280 prisoners.

The state Pardon and Parole Board already recommended the prisoners' sentences be commuted and Stitt has mostly agreed with the board's recommendations in the past.

Third Federal Inmate Dies From COVID-19

Apr 1, 2020

Updated 8:34 p.m. ET

A third person held at the federal prison in Oakdale, La., has died of COVID-19, according to Federal Bureau of Prisons officials. The person's name was not released while authorities notified the person's next of kin.

Governor Kevin Stitt and Attorney General Mike Hunter are giving police advice on how to avoid contracting coronavirus and prevent others from spreading it.

The guidance includes a disclaimer that the governor and attorney general are not calling for dangerous criminals to be released from jail, but right now they say it is better for fewer people to be in jails and prisons.

Criminal justice reform advocates are calling for the release of people from county jails and state prisons as the coronavirus spreads.

Their long list of requests includes wanting elderly prisoners, prisoners with immune deficiencies and people on the verge of release out of state prisons. They’re also calling for the Pardon and Parole Board to expedite releases for people who might already be eligible for shortened sentences.

Kris Steele, leader of Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform says incarcerated people are at high risk of spreading the virus.

A federal judge has ordered the release of 10 people held by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in New Jersey county jails where COVID-19 has been confirmed, citing chronic medical conditions of the detainees that make them particularly vulnerable to the disease.

Those ordered freed range in age from 31 to 56 years of age and have medical conditions including diabetes, heart disease and obesity, and some with past histories that include pneumonia and smoking. Five were being held at Bergen County Jail, three at Hudson County Jail and the other two at Essex County Jail.

As people across the globe enter self-isolation, what's happening to people who were already in lockdown before the coronavirus pandemic?

Hundreds of thousands of people are in prison across the world. And without many resources, medical and otherwise, prisoners are at high risk for contracting the coronavirus. 

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