Monday, May 18, 2020

A State-by-State Look At Coronavirus In Prisons


themarshallproject |  Since March, The Marshall Project has been tracking how many people are being sickened and killed by COVID-19 in prisons and how widely it has spread across the country and within each state. Here, we will regularly update these figures counting the number of people infected and killed nationwide and in each prison system until the crisis abates.

By May 13, at least 25,239 people in prison had tested positive for the illness, a 25 percent increase from the week before.

Much of the remarkable recent growth in coronavirus cases has been due to a handful of states—Ohio, Tennessee, Arkansas, Michigan, North Carolina among them—that began aggressively testing nearly everyone at prisons where people had become sick. This spate of testing would suggest that coronavirus had been circulating in prisons in much greater numbers than known, and that in the many states where tests have not been prevalent, far more people may have been carrying it than were initially reported.

The first known COVID-19 death of a prisoner was in Georgia when Anthony Cheek died on March 26. Cheek, who was 49 years old, had been held in Lee State Prison near Albany, a hotspot for the disease. Since then, at least 372 other prisoners have died of coronavirus-related causes. By May 13, the total number of deaths had risen by 23 percent in a week.

Given the huge differences in how many people are being tested in prisons for the virus, the effects of the pandemic have varied widely between different state prison systems. The first reported cases began popping up in Massachusetts and Georgia on March 20. By the end of April, some states like Nebraska, Idaho and Maine still had not identified any confirmed cases of sick prisoners. Here, you can choose to view the data for any state prison system and see how the numbers compare. For a summary of the number of cases in facilities run by the federal Bureau of Prisons, choose the “Federal” option.