The U.S. Prison System Has Reached 1,000 COVID-19 Deaths
America crossed a grim threshold this week. The Marshall Project and the Associated Press calculate that there have now been 1,000 COVID-19 deaths across the state and federal prison systems. Of the people who died, 928 were inmates and 72 were prison staff.
There have been at least 108,000 reported COVID-19 infections among inmates, and the rates can vary wildly from state to state: Less than 10 percent of California’s prison population has reported infections, while 30 percent of Arkansas’ population has. You probably shouldn’t use those numbers alone to determine how effectively prisons have responded to the outbreak: There are other variables, like how long it took for prisons to start widespread testing and how they’ve managed the infections. There has been a big spike in newly reported infections in prisons in July and August, but reported deaths are stable and about half what they were in April and May.
Research published in early July found that COVID-19 infection rates among prisoners were 5.5 times that of the general population. The death rate (39 per 10,000) among inmates was also higher than the death rate (29 per 10,000) among the general population. Again, this can vary wildly from state to state. Some states, su
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