As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to sweep across the United States, jail and prison populations are taking a hard hit.
Communities that live in close proximity to each other are most vulnerable to COVID-19. In prisons, jails and detention centers, it is virtually impossible to follow social distancing protocols. Even under normal circumstances, these facilities do not provide adequate health care. More often than not, inmates don't have consistent access to soap and water. And when you consider that so many of these prisons exceed their capacity, the situation becomes even more dire.
We are seeing more and more reports of infections at U.S. detention facilities. But even before these reports surfaced, health experts had been urging officials to consider supervised release for the most vulnerable inmates.
Last month, U.S. Attorney General William Barr ordered the Bureau of Prisons to expand the use of home confinement. The Bureau operates 122 prisons with nearly 175,000 people in custody. As of April 29, 1,534 inmates and 343 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. These numbers will continue to rise unless more action is taken to protect the people behind bars.
In response to the memo, the BOP put 1,805 inmates on home confinement. But even so, prisons nationwide are reporting major staffing and resource shortages; robust protective gear including masks and face shields, are seriously lacking.
While COVID-19 continues to spread, and until more action is taken to protect the people behind bars, 1M MASKS will do its part and provide as much PPE as possible.
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