Is Social Distancing Possible Behind Bars?

Is Social Distancing Possible Behind Bars?

The COVID-19 crisis is an equal opportunity killer! The virus doesn’t discriminate against any language, ethnicity, nation, or religion. Unfortunately, the prison population has been affected too.

In this post, we will discuss the extent to which the prison population has been affected and what has caused it.

Are the US prisons overcrowded?

Inmates are more susceptible to chronic health conditions and viral infections because prisons in the US are overcrowded. According to the experts at Forbes, the US is home to a prison population of 2.2 million. Out of every 100,000 citizens, 481 people are incarcerated. More than 18 states have reported that their prisons are operating at over 100% capacity. This makes the US prison system the 113th most overcrowded across the world. In 2018, the occupancy level of the US prison system stood at 103.9%!

According to another report, over the past forty years, the number of inmates held in the US prisons has quadrupled. Since the 1970s, the prison population has risen by 700%. This explosive growth rate has outpaced that of the general US population. The facilities have been so overcrowded that prisoners often end up sleeping in the hallways or gyms.

Multiple jail cells

COVID-19 and prison population

As of July 3rd, 2020, the number of US inmates infected with COVID-19 soared past 50,000! This number was 8% higher than the week before. As many as 616 inmates have died so far. The numbers in California, Arkansas, and Texas have particularly started picking up again.

According to a report by the Reuters, the 20 US counties with the largest jails have alone reported around 2700 confirmed COVID-19 cases. This figure has risen 30-fold over six weeks. The report also states that jail inmates belong to the most ignored segment of society when it comes to healthcare. Jails have also been largely overlooked in terms of the distribution of medical supplies and test kits.

Is social distancing possible?

The answer is no. Social distancing is not possible in US prisons.

Ideally, jails are not designed for long-term accommodation. Prisons are designed only to hold the detainees until their trial takes place. This is not the case in the US. Cash bail has become so expensive that detainees end up spending months or even years behind bars. Most of these have been accused of minor, non-violent crimes. According to The Washington Post, most of the cells are so crowded that inmates have to share showers, cells, and sinks. To make things worse, the hygiene standards in these jails are also deplorable.

The only way forward is to release defendants on a pre-trial basis, with bail bonds, if they don’t pose any flight risk. We recommend getting in touch with a professional bail bond company in Starke right away, such as Lee Calhoun Bail Bonds. They offer 24/7 and affordable services.

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