Prison Pandemic

COVID-19 deaths in US prisons have shot up 73% since mid-May even as case numbers remain stagnant in the country overall, The New York Times reports

What does that look like on the ground? At the Cummins Unit penitentiary in southeast Arkansas, a startling lack of COVID-19 precautions was followed by one of the largest outbreaks in US prisons.

Half of the 2,000 inmates there sleep in open barracks less than 3 feet apart—close enough to smell each others’ breath, The New Yorker's Rachel Aviv reports.

When a facility that was essentially run day-to-day by prisoners was finally locked down, staff inherited daily operations, and the fragile contract between inmates and correctional officers deteriorated. Meals and security were neglected; resentment spread.  
As one inmate put it: “This is bigger than me as an inmate and you as a low-level correctional officer. We’ve both been subjected to the same conditions.”

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