Group pushing to free all inmates so they don’t get COVID-19. Ex-con weighs in.

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It goes without saying that both jails and prisons have some unique issues with regard to dealing with COVID-19. While there’s no harm in exploring possible solutions, some ideas are just plain dumb.

Certain think-tanks believe that if we just let people out of jail and prison, then the problem will be magically solved.

All that would really do is lessen someone’s risk of contracting COVID-19 while incarcerated but that doesn’t actually lower an individual’s chance from getting it overall.

Most of these think-tanks happen to be among the pro-inmate ilk.

I get it.

An organization that has a goal such as reducing the prison population would certainly pose their pre-existing policy aspirations as viable solutions to an ongoing concern over COVID-19.

Aside from the Sentencing Project chiming in, the Prison Policy Initiative dropped in their list of possible solutions over prison-related concerns around COVID-19. They’d listed five possible ways to deter jail/prison spread of the virus.

Some aspects mentioned by the Prison Policy Initiative were more reasonable than others.

On the more reasonable spectrum, they cited that unnecessary parole/probation meetings could be reduced.

Considering that I have the unique experience of knowing the cadence of these meetings, it’s not a half bad proposition. They specifically pointed toward “low risk” parolees and probationers that could be afforded phone check-ins until things calm down virus-wise.

The PPI also suggested eliminating medical co-pays for inmates in jail/prison.

That also isn’t a terrible idea, as it would be in the facility’s best interest to know who may be sick and can take precautionary measures from there.

However, from that point on, the PPI just starts reaching with their “suggestions.” They suggested that jails should lower their admissions of people arrested.

Sorry, but people still need to go to jail if they did something deserving of it.

They also suggested to stop violating people on parole or probation.

Again, completely stupid.

To be fair, the PPI said “technical violations,” but every violation of parole and probation is “technical.” Besides, most P.O.s already give people a pass on silly infractions like curfew violations and an accidentally missed drug test.

The real kicker was releasing “medically fragile inmates and older adults.”

Really?

The PPI may not realize it, but someone with asthma or diabetes can still be a danger to the public, yet those cited instances fall under someone susceptible to COVID-19.

The Center for American Progress also cited that ICE should refrain from undergoing enforcement operations around hospitals and COVID-19 testing sites.

News flash, ICE already has an internal memorandum where they do their best to avoid “sensitive areas.”

That includes health care facilities such as hospitals, urgent care clinics, doctor’s offices, and accredited health care clinics. That means they weren’t going to target those areas anyway.

The only time ICE would find themselves engaging in ERO operations is under exigent circumstances and typically with loads of higher-up approval.

There’s nothing wrong with “thinking outside of the box” when it comes to how to approach dealing with the potential spread of COVID-19. However, letting everyone out of jail and prison isn’t really a practical solution.

It’s ridiculous that an ex-con has to be the one saying this.

Besides, many prisons are already poising themselves to tackle COVID-19, much like they’ve done previously with instances like the swine-flu. 

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To date, there still haven’t been any reported cases noted about any American jails or prisons dealing with an outbreak of COVID-19. While it doesn’t mean it won’t happen, or hasn’t flown under the radar, something is apparently working thus far. 

Reportedly, prisons are taking extra precautionary measures to keep the jails and prisons from turning into a breeding ground for the virus. This might have something to do with some estimates that say 500 cases have shown up across prisons within China, but one also has to consider that the virus did originate in Wuhan.

Some of the practices the prison facilities in the U.S. are engaging in include inmate screenings, sanitizing cells, and urging the scaling back of person-to-person lawyer visits, thereby avoiding the spread of germs.

These measures aren’t all that different from how jails and prisons reacted to the swine flu years back.

The biggest variable in prisons and jails are corrections employees. Take into consideration there’s usually three shift changes in a day for corrections officers, on top of administrative and food services staff.

Thus, once a solitary corrections employee gets one inmate infected, then you’ve got a potential mess.

A prison colloquial here in Arizona is “when one’s sick, the run’s sick” – making reference to the prison “runs” that would have around thirty inmates in hallway-styled rooms with rows of beds and cubicles.

But employing a little common sense can go a long way in preventing the spread of germs. 

The CDC recommends common sense practices like washing your hands with soap and water, using hand sanitizer when available, disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces, and avoid touching your eyes and mouth.

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