Inmates, family members concerned about COVID-19 in New York prisons


Family members of prison inmates in New York are worried about what they say is a lack of protections against the coronavirus, which has so far been reported at the Clinton Correctional Facility and the Clinton Correctional Facility

One inmate’s mother said her son wasn’t given much to protect himself against the virus.

“They’re not distributing gloves, there’s 40-50 inmates per dorm and they sleep inches away from each other so they can’t practice social distancing in prison,” she said. “My son told me the only thing they’ve done so far is distribute bleach — that’s it.”

Leonard Ramirez, a resident of Long Island, said his partner is an inmate at Franklin Correctional Facility in Malone, New York. He explained his partner has Type 1 diabetes and isn’t receiving adequate medical treatment.

“One of the reasons why he was placed in that facility was because it’s supposed to be a medical facility and what’s happening is that less and less of the medical staff is showing up because I guess they are afraid of the coronavirus,” said Ramirez.

Health officials say an inmate at the Clinton County Corrections Facility and a staff member at the federal prison in Ray Brook in Essex County have tested positive for the virus.

In a statement, the New York State Department of Corrections said they have a comprehensive pandemic flu protocol that has been modified for COVID-19. Both staff and inmates have received information on preventative measures to stay healthy, including the top recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and the New York Department of Health. The DOCCS says it has implemented additional measures to restrict who enters the facilities.

Meanwhile, officials announced April 1 that prison staff will now be able to bring in and use their own personal protection equipment during work.

James Miller, communications director for the New York State Corrections Officers union, said they are working on ordering things like N-95 masks.

“The union is in the process of purchasing one for every member of NYSCOPA,” he said. “These are necessary steps that we thought needed to take place to safeguard all the front-line employees.”

According to the New York Department of Corrections, as of Thursday, 176 employees have confirmed cases, with 24 positive inmates. In Vermont, the Department of Corrections has reported two cases, both staffers — one in Swanton, one in Newport.

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