COVID-19 cases pile up in Florida prisons

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Coronavirus is sweeping the Florida prison system.

Stats from the Florida Department of Corrections reveal that coronavirus continues its path through the penal system.

As of Wednesday morning, 40 staffers and five inmates tested COVID-19 positive.

That number is up from 37 staffers and four inmates the day before.

New positive tests include staffers at Hernando, Lowell, and Wakulla Correctional Institutions, representing the first cases in those facilities.

Additionally, an inmate in Sumter has tested positive. A staffer there had previously tested positive, raising questions of potential community spread.

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration, which resisted release of immunocompromised inmates, won’t reveal the number of inmates or workers who have been tested for COVID-19, or how many prisoners are in medical isolation due to the virus.

Activists are concerned.

“I think the lack of information coming from the Florida Department of Corrections is very troubling. We know that once the virus is inside, it is very difficult to contain it and Floridians have a right to know what is happening to 95,000 people in the state,” Southern Poverty Law Center staff attorney Sumayya Saleh told the News Service of Florida on Tuesday.

Members of the Florida Campaign for Criminal Justice Reform on Wednesday urged state officials to expedite the process of getting people out of jails and prisons.

“Gov. Ron DeSantis has the power to commute prison sentences, and he’s not doing it,” said Micah Kubic, executive director for the ACLU of Florida. “To avoid a major coronavirus outbreak, we need to safely reduce the prison and jail populations.”

The gravest concerns, however, come from members of the 96,000 person population in Florida prisons.

“We all know prison isn’t clean. It is an incubator for germs and viruses,” wrote one correspondent to Florida Politics, whose name and location will be protected.

However, the Florida Department of Corrections urges perspective.

FDC has 50 major institutions, 17 annexes and seven private facilities. Most facilities do not have a confirmed staff case, and no state run facilities have a confirmed inmate at this time,” asserted DOC spokesperson Michelle Glady on Tuesday.

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The News Service of Florida and Florida Politics’ Jacob Ogles contributed to this post.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at [email protected]


3 comments

  • JohnnyBeGood

    April 8, 2020 at 5:36 pm

    The big push is on by the left to clear the prisons. I guess now that out of jail felons can vote, the more the better for the Democrats.

    My idea is to keep dangerous people where they are and make them more physically distanced from other inmates.

    If there is not enough room for all the inmates, then allow those with non-violent convictions to leave prison. They must wear ankle tracking devices, so they can be tracked at all times. They must have a place to go and not just be let out if they would be homeless.

    After the crises ends, the prisoners should go back to prison to finish their sentences.

    The left wants them to have their sentences commuted by the Governor, but that is because of the ability to vote in Florida. There is really no other reason to do anything like that.

    It may be true that the prisons have covid-19, but it is also true that we are all in areas outside of prison, where this virus is keeping us very close to imprisonment.

    Other than politics, there is no reason to listen to the suggestion to commute.

  • lol

    April 8, 2020 at 8:14 pm

    Why not just keep them where they are?

  • martin

    April 10, 2020 at 8:24 am

    I feel very bad for the corrections employee’s. As for the actual criminals, lock them down in their cells 24/7. They made their beds. Does any rational person think that by releasing them, they will abide by social distancing and other societal guidelines?

Comments are closed.


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