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As COVID Recedes In Prisons, Will Any Lessons Learned Stick?

Prison COVID Marshall Project.jpeg
David Goldman
/
AP
In this Dec. 28, 2020, file photo, an inmate from a nearby prison is shackled to the bed as he is treated with a ventilator for COVID-19 inside the intensive care unit at Kent Hospital in Warwick, R.I. For 15 months, The Marshall Project and The Associated Press tracked the spread of COVID-19 through prisons nationwide. They counted more than a half-million people living and working in prisons who got sick from the coronavirus.

With crowded conditions, notoriously substandard medical care and constantly shifting populations, prisons were ill-equipped to handle the virus, which killed nearly 3,000 prisoners and staff.

For 15 months, The Marshall Project and The Associated Press tracked the spread of COVID-19 through prisons nationwide. They counted more than a half-million people living and working in prisons who got sick from the coronavirus.

Prisons were forced to adapt to unusual and deadly circumstances. But now, as new cases are declining and facilities are loosening restrictions, there’s little evidence to suggest enough substantive changes have been made to handle future waves of infection.

With crowded conditions, notoriously substandard medical care and constantly shifting populations, prisons were ill-equipped to handle the highly contagious virus, and it's killed nearly 3,000 prisoners and staff.

In Florida, Derrick Johnson was released from the Everglades Correctional Institution in December.

Johnson says he was surrounded by the sounds of coughing and requests for Tylenol. And while he thought a lot of the prison’s policies were ineffective at protecting prisoners, he also wondered if that was the best the facility could do.

“Prison is not built to compete with a pandemic,” Johnson says. “The pandemic’s gonna win every time.”

Click here to read more of this story from the Associated Press.