June 23, 2024

Update: COVID-19 Prisoner Deaths

Read the following on prisoner COVID-19 related deaths in Federal prison, State prisons and Jails. 


State prisons offer incentives to get inmates to vaccinate

Updated January 29, 2021 5:20 p.m. EST By Travis Fain, WRAL statehouse reporter

— The state prison system will offer most inmates a five-day sentence credit in a bid to boost vaccination rates behind bars, Department of Public Safety leaders said Friday. The incentives were announced a few weeks into the prison system’s coronavirus vaccination efforts. So far, the system has gotten about 3,000 vaccine doses from the state and was on track to use them all by the end of Friday, prison leaders said. They expect another 2,000 doses next week. Many of those shots have gone to staff, though roughly 853 of the state’s nearly 30,000 offenders have gotten their first of two doses. Roughly 2,800 of the state’s 14,100 prison staffers have taken their first shot, the department said.”

The Case For Vaccinating Prisoners Early

“A prison health expert explains why incarcerated people should be near the front of the line for the coronavirus vaccine. Prisons and jails are among the most dangerous places to be in a pandemic. People housed within them cannot socially distance or quarantine. Mask-wearing is optional in many institutions, which leaves prisoners even more vulnerable to the coronavirus. Compounding these conditions, prisoners are already far sicker than the general population, making them extra vulnerable to the virus. Since the pandemic began, correctional facilities have been home to some of the biggest outbreaks in the nation. Roughly 250,000 people in prison have been infected with the virus and at least 1,647 have died, according to data collected by The Marshall Project.”

Brendon Derr, Rebecca Griesbach and

“States and counties are finding it hard to keep jails and prisons open as the virus ravages both prisoners and staff members. But transferring inmates can spur new outbreaks. Battered by a wave of coronavirus infections and deaths, local jails and state prison systems around the United States have resorted to a drastic strategy to keep the virus at bay: Shutting down completely and transferring their inmates elsewhere. From California to Missouri to Pennsylvania, state and local officials say that so many guards have fallen ill with the virus and are unable to work that abruptly closing some correctional facilities is the only way to maintain community security and prisoner safety. Experts say the fallout is easy to predict: The jails and prisons that stay open will probably become even more crowded, unsanitary and disease-ridden, and the transfers are likely to help the virus proliferate both inside and outside the walls.”

The Marshall Project: State by State Coronavirus in US prisons:

Federal and State Prisons: By Jan. 26, at least 366,121 people in prison had tested positive for the illness, a 3 percent increase from the week before. There have been at least 366,121 cases of coronavirus reported among prisoners. 286,505 prisoners have recovered.

Prison Staff: There have been at least 98,035 cases of coronavirus reported among prison staff. 71,197 staff have recovered. There have been at least 170 deaths from coronavirus reported among prison staff.


COVID-19 in Correctional and Detention Facilities — United States, February–April 2020

“An estimated 2.1 million U.S. adults are housed within approximately 5,000 correctional and detention facilities on any given day (1). Many facilities face significant challenges in controlling the spread of highly infectious pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Such challenges include crowded dormitories, shared lavatories, limited medical and isolation resources, daily entry and exit of staff members and visitors, continual introduction of newly incarcerated or detained persons, and transport of incarcerated or detained persons in multiperson vehicles for court-related, medical, or security reasons (2,3).”


COVID-19 Model Finds Nearly 100,000 More Deaths Than Current  Estimates, Due to Failures to Reduce Jail

                  New Model Shows Reducing Jail Population will Lower COVID-19 Death Toll for  All of Us

“Models projecting total U.S. fatalities to be under 100,0001 may be underestimating deaths by almost another 100,000 if we continue to operate jails as usual, based on a new epidemiological study completed in partnership between academic researchers and ACLU Analytics. That is, deaths could be double the current projections due to the omission of jails from most public models. Numbers used by the Trump administration largely fail to consider several factors that will explosively increase the loss of life unless drastic reforms are adopted to reduce the nation’s jail populations.”

Failing Grades: States’ Responses to COVID-19 in Jails & Prisons

“Advocates were rightly concerned, given the long-standing and systemic racial disparities in arrest, prosecution, and sentencing, that policymakers would be slow to respond to the threat of the virus in prisons and jails when it was disproportionately poor people of color whose lives were on the line. Would elected officials be willing to take the necessary steps to save lives in time?… The results are clear: despite all of the information, voices calling for action, and the obvious need, state responses ranged from disorganized or ineffective, at best, to callously nonexistent at worst. Even using data from criminal justice system agencies — that is, even using states’ own versions of this story — it is clear that no state has done enough and that all states failed to implement a cohesive, system-wide response.”

The Federal Bureau of Prisons:

09/25/2020 – The BOP has 126,726 federal inmates in BOP-managed institutions and 14,263 in community-based facilities. The BOP staff complement is approximately 36,000. There are 1,995 federal inmates and 703 BOP staff who have confirmed positive test results for COVID-19 nationwide. Currently, 12,505 inmates and 1,118 staff have recovered. There have been 124 federal inmate deaths and 2 BOP staff member deaths attributed to COVID-19 disease. Of the inmate deaths, 4 occurred while on home confinement. Full breakdown and additional details …


The Marshall Project: State by State Coronavirus in US prisons:

132,677: Cases by September 22nd, 2020, 1,108 deaths by September 22nd, 2020


“By Sept. 22, at least 132,677 people in prison had tested positive for the illness, a 5 percent increase from the week before. New cases among prisoners reached an all-time high in early August after slowing down in June. The growth in recent weeks was driven by big jumps in prisoners testing positive in Florida, California and the federal Bureau of Prisons as well as outbreaks in Arkansas, Hawaii and Oklahoma.”

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons:

BOP: COVID-19 Update” on COVID-19 Related Death in US Federal Prisons

“The BOP has 142,446 federal inmates in BOP-managed institutions and 10,447 in community-based facilities. The BOP staff complement is approximately 36,000. As of 04/28/2020, there are 1313 federal inmates and 335 BOP staff who have confirmed positive test results for COVID-19 nationwide. Currently, 404 inmates and 132 staff have recovered. There have been 30 federal inmate deaths and 0 BOP staff member deaths attributed to COVID-19 disease. Full breakdown and additional details …” 

State Prisons: Over 100 prisoners have died

The New York Times: “No one deserves to die of Covid-19 in prison or jail. But more than 100 inmates already have, and thousands more could if prisons and elected officials do not take steps to protect the incarcerated now. A report from the American Civil Liberties Union predicted that an explosion of cases in jails could cause the total death count in the United States to double.:” Read:

July 8, 2020:  John Hopkins:

COVID-19 Cases and Deaths in Federal and State Prisons Significantly Higher Than in U.S. Population


A new analysis led by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that the number of U.S. prison residents who tested positive for COVID-19 was 5.5 times higher than the general U.S. population, with a prisoner case rate of 3,251 per 100,000 residents as compared to 587 cases per 100,000 in the general population.”


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