Why Prisoners Need Protection From Coronavirus

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coronavirus spread in prison

Source: Doug Berry / Getty

You may have read that some inmates are being released from prisons in order to contain the spread of COVID-19 in correctional facilities. Experts have called prisons “petri dishes” for the cultivation and growth of illness. If you think about the nature of a prison, you can see how that is true. You have multiple individuals sleeping in a cell, hundreds or thousands moving through the same shower stalls, thousands of hands touching the same workout equipment, and inmates sitting shoulder to shoulder to have meals, attend church services, attend AA meetings, and participate in similar activities. Prisoners don’t get to social distance the way free civilians do. While there has been focus in the past on other injustices in the prison system, now one bigger issue has to trump them all: coronavirus spread in prison.

Sadly, some don’t think that prisoners should be our priority now. Naturally, there is concern about inmates being released. Are they dangerous? Will they then not face the punishment they deserve or get the rehabilitation they need? Some just don’t know why we’re spending resources on impacting whether or not prisoners get coronavirus. But we must act fast to prevent the spread of this illness in these facilities. Here is why.
coronavirus spread in prison

Source: Andrew Aitchison / Getty

They weren’t sentenced to death

Most prisoners were not given the death sentence, and those that were were entitled to a swift execution. But nobody was sentenced to dying a slow and painful death from an illness. We are supposed to provide justice, and justice means that the punishment should fit the crime. Death by COVID-19 is not a punishment that was doled out to any of these prisoners, and so they do not deserve it.
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