Prison News

Will the Coronavirus Make Us Rethink Mass Incarceration?

By Sarah Stillman – The New Yorker – May 25, 2020

“For decades, community groups have pointed out the social costs of mass incarceration: its failure to address the root causes of addiction and violence; its steep fiscal price tag; its deepening of racial inequalities. The coronavirus pandemic has exposed another danger of the system: its public-health risks.”

Prisoners Protest as More Than 700 Contract COVID-19

By Sandy Hausman – WVTF – Virginia Public Radio – May 12, 2020

“More than 700 inmates in state prisons have now tested positive for COVID-19, and five have died. Meanwhile, the ACLU of Virginia is investigating the mysterious transfer of at least half a dozen men from the Dillwyn Correctional Center after protests erupted there.  The low security prison reports more than 200 cases of COVID-19 in staff and inmates.”

Settlement approved in suit filed by prison inmates seeking protection from COVID-19

By Frank Green – Richmond Times-Dispatch – May 12, 2020

“A suit alleging Virginia failed to reduce the prison population or protect inmates against COVID-19, impinging on their constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment, has been settled and dismissed in federal court in Richmond. The settlement agreement calls for the Virginia Department of Corrections to quickly review inmates eligible for early release under the governor’s budget amendment and creates a procedure for the Secretary of the Commonwealth to consider conditional pardons for prisoners with medical issues or concerns related to COVID-19, the ACLU said on Tuesday.”

Northam rejects GOP leadership’s call to halt early release of inmates with violent records

By Frank Green – Richmond Times-Dispatch – May 12, 2020

“Gov. Ralph Northam on Tuesday rejected a call by the Republican General Assembly leadership for a moratorium on the early releases of prison inmates with violent records.”

Inmates have made half a million face masks during pandemic, now some are raising concerns

By Frank Green – Richmond Times-Dispatch – May 9, 2020

“In less than two months, half a million face masks were manufactured by a handful of offenders for use by 30,000 inmates, thousands of corrections officers and other staff of the Virginia Department of Corrections.

At $6.26 a dozen, the face guards have also been purchased by dozens of state agencies, local governments and jails thus far, generating more than $210,000 in sales, according to Virginia Correctional Enterprises, a company that pays the inmates 55 cents to 80 cents an hour for the work.”

Virginia Department of Corrections clears 230 prisoners for early release

By Ned Oliver – Virginia Mercury – May 7, 2020

“The Virginia Department of Corrections has cleared 230 inmates for early release in the two weeks since the General Assembly approved an emergency proposal by Gov. Ralph Northam aimed at containing the spread of COVID-19 in state prisons.”