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New York gets poor marks for protecting the incarcerated against COVID-19

Sep 08, 2021 5:30 am

Davis Dunavin is reporting for WSHU-FM the response of New York and Connecticut has been better than average for how those state prison systems responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a nationwide criminal justice group. However, advocates said both states could still do more. The Prison Policy Initiative gave the majority of states an F, while New York and Connecticut were given an F-plus. Wanda Bertram is with the Prison Policy Initiative and she said the people incarcerated in the nation's prisons are are dying of COVID-19 at much higher rates than the general population. “Because prisons have never been safe places for people to be during a pandemic, or really ever,” Bertram said. The group graded each state based on about 30 metrics, like vaccination efforts for the incarcerated, or early release for those at highest risk. “Releasing people and letting them go home during the pandemic is the best way of slowing down this virus inside prisons and jails,” Bertram said. She said both states left key policy options on the table. “For instance, Connecticut and New York actually released fewer people on parole in 2020 than they had in 2019. Which is astonishing to me,” Bertram said. She said New York fell short on some surprising metrics, too. “All too often we think about mass incarceration and inhuman treatment as something that only happens in those famous tough-on-crime states, like the gulf states. But in New York, the vaccination rate behind bars is only 40 percent. So people are in real danger,” Bertram said. The report gave New Jersey its highest grade — a C. The state led the country in releasing people. California got a C-, and no other state scored above a D. Read the full story at WSHU [dot] org.