The risk of unreported viral deaths in the country’s prisons, jails, and immigration detention facilities is significant, according to public health officials. Without knowing the full extent of the damage, experts say it’s difficult to prepare prisons for future epidemics. At this point in time, most of the public’s knowledge of prisoner deaths is derived from the institutions themselves.
“You can’t make good public policy if you don’t know what’s actually going on,” says UCLA’s Sharon Dolovich, director of the Covid Behind Bars Data Project. According to Dolovich, his project keeps tabs on the deaths caused by the coronavirus.
It was argued by prison and jail officials that their methods met all federal and local documentation requirements in order to compile statistics on the number of inmates who have died from coronavirus infection. That’s not what they do, they said, and it would be difficult and impractical to include deaths when a person was no longer in custody. It could even lead to an overestimation of the number of virus cases linked to the facilities, which is not what they’re supposed to do.
“It is unfair to expect jails to somehow take ownership of what happens to people once they are released from our custody,” a spokeswoman for the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office said. “Every death that occurs while an inmate is thoroughly investigated and reported in accordance with the strict guidelines set forth by the Virginia Department of Corrections.
Both do not require the reporting of the deaths of former inmates. It’s absurd to think we could manage thousands of people and assume accountability for their well-being “she explained.
Prisons have made a point of publicising deaths associated with the Covid-19 pandemic in various ways. Although the death of inmate Covid-19 was reported to state health officials, prison officials in Nevada claim that the death was kept a secret from the public. Covid-19 has been linked to the deaths of nearly two dozen inmates in Mississippi prisons prior to the announcement in January of nearly two dozen inmate deaths linked to Covid-19.
Re-investigating each death in Texas where a medical examiner said Covid-19 was a contributing factor has been revealed by a state prison medical committee.
According to the medical examiner who examined her, her death was caused by “bacterial and possibly fungal pneumonia, a complication of Covid-19.” However, the committee concluded that she died of “acute bacterial bronchopneumonia,” rather than including Covid-19 in the cause of death. she died from.