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Over 200 coronavirus cases reported in Maryland Prison system, department says

This piece originally appeared in the Baltimore Sun.


Over 200 cases of the new coronavirus have been detected in Maryland’s prison system, according to the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

Fifty inmates have been diagnosed with the disease, which has stricken a total of 217 people affiliated with the department.

Jessup Correctional Institution has 52 total cases, including 17 inmates, 22 correctional officers and administrative employees, giving it the highest concentration of COVID-19 cases in the state system.

Other facilities impacted include the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women at 36 cases; the maximum security Patuxent Institution with 35 cases; the Dorsey Run Correctional Facility at 26; and the Maryland Correctional Institution for men with 13 cases.

The Maryland Reception, Diagnostics and Classification Center in Baltimore has 29 total cases with 2 inmates and 27 officers, making it the highest highest total of correctional officers confirmed to be diagnosed with the virus in the state, according to the department’s count.

The Metropolitan Transition center has a confirmed 22 cases of COVID-19, 20 of them officers and one inmate.

Other Baltimore area facilities affected include: the Chesapeake Detention Center, the Baltimore City Correctional Center, Baltimore Central Booking and Intake Center and the youth detention center.

Three cases were confirmed in correctional facilities in both Cumberland and Hagerstown.

A total of 24 officers and 15 inmates have recovered from the virus, according to the department.

Cases of COVID-19 have rapidly increased over the last month, leaving many inmates resorting to crafting their own masks.

Ryan King, the Director of Research and Policy at the Justice Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., believes the numbers of cases in the state prison system could be higher than the department has reported.

Maryland is one of 14 states who aren’t regularly reporting rates of testing at prions, and the state has not acted as aggressively to free inmates as some others hard hit by the virus, prisoner rights advocates and some local officials have said.

King says these states have regularly indicated the number of inmates who have tested both positive and negative along with the number of inmates who have been placed on quarantine.

Because Maryland has not reported on these numbers, King believes there is a chance that there could be unknown cases throughout state facilities.

“Our concern is there is a lot of staff and a lot individuals that could be likely positive for this virus. There could be a significant number of unknown cases in the facility."

A nationwide review of data from 37 states conducted by a group of criminal justice scholars found that 8,866 inmates have tested positive compared to 2,938 inmates. The group formed a website, COVID Prison Data, that collects and shares its data and findings.


This piece originally appeared in the Baltimore Sun.

   

 

Posted in JPI in the News, Criminal Justice News

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