State Watch

38 percent of Arkansas COVID-19 cases concentrated in state prison

Thirty-eight percent of Arkansas’ coronavirus cases are concentrated in a maximum-security prison, Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) said in a Tuesday briefing.

Hutchinson said that the state’s total cases stand at 2,227, which includes 850 inmates at Cummins Prison who are infected with the virus.

The state saw an increase of 304 cases between Monday and Tuesday, with 260 of the new positive tests coming from the prison.

“These are really some escalating high numbers we have seen,” Hutchinson said, according to The Washington Post.

The facility holds about 1,200 inmates, meaning the majority are now infected, along with 10 staffers. “We’re trying to curtail it, we’re trying to know exactly where we stand in that prison environment,” Hutchinson said.

A lawsuit filed by a group of civil rights attorneys has accused the Hutchinson administration of failing to take proper precautions to stem the spread of the virus in state correctional facilities, while Hutchinson has argued Cummins inmates have more access to testing than the rest of the population.

Outbreaks in prisons, where workers are considered essential and public health experts’ social distancing recommendations are all but impossible, have been increasingly common. The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction said Monday that 1,828 inmates at Marion Correctional Institution have tested positive for the virus, 73 percent of the total inmates there.

Meanwhile, in Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) said earlier this month that 276 inmates at Cook County jail have tested positive for the virus.

“First and foremost, no one should be locked up if they’re not a danger to the community or a flight risk,” Lightfoot said on CNN’s “New Day.” “And certainly not because they can’t afford to pay bail.”

Attorney General William Barr has issued a memo to federal prosecutors instructing them to incorporate the potential risk of coronavirus in determining bail amounts.  

Tags Coronavirus William Barr

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