Inmate safety during coronavirus

People who are arrested for a criminal offense may find themselves in a jail or a prison depending on the nature of the circumstances. That can be a concerning event in any situation, but in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic, a new concern is emerging fast. Many worry that jails and prisons can essentially turn into incubators for the virus and COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

Distancing oneself from others in a jail or prison may be all but impossible. The risk is said to be shared by inmates and staff as well as the family or household members of any staff who may bring the virus home with them, even if unknowingly.

NPR reported that visitors to any and all federal prisons are banned for at least 30 days as of March 13, 2020. The action, taken by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, may even limit defendants’ access to their lawyers. It is indicated that those visits will be assessed per each case for the necessity of any visit and the safety thereof. Inmates will also not be transferred between facilities for the time being.

With the majority of the nation’s inmates in facilities managed by individual states, the reaction at the state level will no doubt become integral to keeping people safe. Fox South Carolina indicated that the South Carolina Department of Corrections has put a hold on all visits for 30 days and said it will work to increase inmate access to phone calls to family members. Work crews from facilities in Kershaw and Sumter County will not go out for now.