prison system

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510 people incarcerated in state and federal prisons have died from COVID-19, according to prison data collected between March 31 and June 6 of this year.

Johns Hopkins University Associate Professor Brendan Saloner says prisoners have a five times higher risk of catching COVID-19 than the overall U.S. population. They’re also more likely to die from the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

OKLAHOMA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS

The Department of Corrections reports 89 prisoners tested positive for COVID-19 at a state prison complex in Lexington.

The first cases were discovered when two prisoners were tested at a hospital earlier this month. It’s unclear if the two prisoners from Lexington Correctional Center were hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms or if they were asymptomatic and sent to the hospital for something unrelated.

When the men’s tests came back positive, the Department of Corrections tested all of the nearly 200 prisoners living in their unit.

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.

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