America's Crowded Prisons Are About to Create a Coronavirus Crisis in Rural America

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      eridani
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      https://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/62807-americas-crowded-prisons-are-about-to-create-a-coronavirus-crisis-in-rural-america

      \In an essay titled “Building a Prison Economy in Rural America,” public policy researcher Tracy Huling points out that there are more prisoners than farmers in some swaths of the United States. She notes that in the 1990s, a new prison or jail sprung up in a rural area at a rate equivalent to every 15 days. So it’s not surprising that there have been outbreaks in areas that don’t otherwise have risk factors, such as crowded public transportation in densely populated urban centers. Marion County, Ohio, has 2,332 confirmed cases, in a population of 66,501. The Marion County prison is currently the top cluster site in the country by far, according to a New York Times analysis.

      “When I read about institutions like in Ohio that are able to test a lot of people, of the positive, most are asymptomatic,” Cheshire County jail superintendent Richard Van Wickler said. “My god, how do you possibly protect other inmates and staff?”

      Last week, PBS reported that of federal prisoners who had been tested, 70 percent were found to have the coronavirus. A breakdown of New York Times data tracking Covid-19 cluster sites on April 26 revealed that out of 100 top cluster sites, 35 were tied to correctional facilities. In comparison, 28 percent of infections were linked to nursing homes. Those numbers are astounding when you consider that nursing home residents are at much higher risk of serious infection because of their age, while incarcerated people and prison staff vary in age. Seven of the top 10 cluster sites are linked to American prisons or jails. As the Marshall Project reported, so-called prison towns like Palestine, Texas, where correctional facilities are a community’s primary employer, have already seen an explosion of cases. An ACLU report released last week estimates that 100,000 more people will die because of America’s crowded jails. “The United States’ unique obsession with incarceration has become our Achilles heel when it comes to combating the spread of COVID-19,” the ACLU concluded.

      When politicians like New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo hail the heroism of America’s “essential workers”— be they doctors, police officers, EMTs, grocery workers, or bus drivers— prison and jail staff go unmentioned. It’s a strange lapse, but perhaps an unsurprising one, given that the solution — large scale decarceration — remains politically difficult.

      Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction

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