COVID-19 kills hundreds of United States prisoners


This 3 July 2020 video from California in the USA is called More Than 1,100 Inmates Infected With COVID-19 At San Quentin Prison.

By Nicole Chavez, CNN in the USA:

7 prisoners with coronavirus died at San Quentin and hundreds more are dying in US jails and prisons

July 10, 2020

Governor Gavin Newsom [of California] is facing mounting pressure to release inmates as corrections officials scramble to contain outbreaks of coronavirus at state prisons.

The outbreak at San Quentin State Prison, where more than half of the Covid-19 cases in state prisons have been reported, has claimed the lives of at least seven incarcerated people, according to a tally from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

“It is incredibly frustrating that we had one person make the decision to transfer a few patients from one prison, Chino, into San Quentin,” Newsom said Thursday in a news conference. “That decision created a chain of events that we are now addressing and dealing with. I’m not here to sugarcoat that.”

The prison had escaped the early months of the pandemic unscathed until cases began soaring in late May after a transfer of detainees from the California Institution for Men in Chino.

Several advocates and lawmakers gathered outside San Quentin on Thursday, calling for the release of medically vulnerable and older detainees. California has not had an execution since 2006, yet six people from my understanding in the past few weeks have been executed by Covid while on death row,” said Adnan Khan, executive director for Re:Store Justice, a criminal justice reform advocacy group.

Authorities in California have been releasing prisoners who are close to finishing their sentences since March due to the pandemic. In San Quentin, more than 500 detainees have been released due to both expedited and natural releases, the CDCR has said.

Inside prison and jails, the pandemic couldn’t feel more palpable as detainees were forced to live, work and eat in close quarters.

Correctional facilities across the country have become major hotspots for the virus in the past months and San Quentin is just the latest.

Nearly 100 people have died in Texas facilities

Before the outbreak at San Quentin, the virus ravaged correctional facilities in central Ohio, Illlinois, Colorado and Texas, where at least 91 incarcerated people and nine staff members with Covid-19 have died, according to state’s department of criminal justice.

Corrections officials are still trying to determine whether 26 additional deaths are linked to the virus.

About 130,000 people are incarcerated across Texas facilities and more than 10,500 detainees have or have had Covid-19. At least 1,927 staff members have also tested positive for the virus, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Unlike California and other states, Texas officials have not moved to release parole-eligible detainees or those who are near the end of their sentences in an effort to reduce the population and slow the spread of the virus, despite calls from advocates and family members.

Gov. Greg Abbott signed an executive order in March to prevent the release of “dangerous criminals” from correctional facilities.

“We want to prevent the spread of #COVID19 among prison staff & inmates. But, releasing dangerous criminals in the streets is not the solution,” the governor tweeted at the time.

Last month, the American Civil Liberties Union released a report saying that more than 570 incarcerated people and over 50 correctional staff have died.

The ACLU analyzed the states’ response to Covid-19 in jails and prisons and found that many states have taken very little action to “implement a cohesive, system-wide response to protect and save lives” amid the pandemic.

Coronavirus infections are more than 5 times higher in prisons

A study released earlier this week showed that the number of incarcerated people infected with Covid-19 and the coronavirus-related death rate in federal and state prisons is higher than the overall US population.

Coronavirus deaths and infection rates higher in US prisons than general population, analysis finds

“The number of US prison residents who tested positive for Covid-19 was 5.5 times higher than the general US population,” said an analysis led by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Researchers said the disparity could be worse because mass testing in some prisons revealed wide Covid-19 outbreaks “with infection rates exceeding 65%” but many facilities are not testing inmates or only test symptomatic people.

The study analyzed cases and deaths from March 31 to June 6 using publicly available data from corrections departments websites, news reports and other sources. As of June 6, there were more than 42,100 cases of Covid-19 and 510 virus-related deaths among the nearly 1.3 million incarcerated people, researchers said.

‘They have given us flimsy paper masks,’ detainee says

Families and advocates have been calling for better conditions at the Prince George’s County jail in Maryland and now actors Jesse Williams and Alec Baldwin, singer Fiona Apple and several Broadway actors have joined them.

“We’re locked down for twenty-three hours or more per day in our hot cells. I get one hour to shower, use the phone, and clean my cell. There’s no social distancing on the phones,” said Baldwin in a video as he read a statement from a 39-year-old detainee.

The video is one of several messages recorded by celebrities, attorneys and activists for “Gasping for Justice”. An initiative by the impact advocacy project Hear Us to share first-hand accounts from detainees.

The statements were part of a federal lawsuit filed in March on behalf of detainees, describing unsanitary and crowded conditions at the Prince George’s jail.

“I don’t think it’s clean enough in here, and we are not getting enough cleaning supplies. I try to keep my cell clean, but they don’t let us use bleach. I ask for spray-nine and the guards say no. I use a rag and my hands. When I find a way to sneak some spray-nine, I use that too,” another detainee said in a statement, read by Broadway’s “Jagged Little Pill” actor Sean Allan Krill.

“They have given us flimsy paper masks. The guards tell us not to lose our masks because we can’t get a replacement,” the detainee’s statement added. “Not all inmates wear their masks; neither do the guards.”

Scott Hechinger, a public defender and director of Zealous, a national initiative to support defenders and communities in moving their advocacy outside of court, said the pandemic has only made the conditions at correction facilities like Prince George’s even more visceral.

“Just because there are not cameras inside, it doesn’t mean there isn’t injustice happening there,” Hechinger told CNN.

As of Wednesday, there have been 19,456 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Prince George’s county, according to data by the state’s health department.

Over 52,000 United States prisoners have COVID-19


This 27 April 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

‘We’re sitting ducks waiting to die’ – US prisoner on coronavirus crisis

The US has the highest number of Covid-19 cases in the world and also incarcerates the most people.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

The number of inmates in the United States infected with the coronavirus has risen to over 50,000. This is reported by news agency AP.

The counter stood at 52,649 infections at the end of June, 8 percent more than a week earlier. More than 35,000 people have recovered and at least 600 detainees have died from the effects of the coronavirus. Employees in U.S. prisons are known to have infected 11,180 people. The virus killed 43 prison officers.

There are concerns worldwide about the spread of corona in prisons. For this reason, prisoners were released temporarily in some countries.

RTV Oost Dutch Overijssel province broadcasting reported earlier today that the relaxation of the coronavirus measures is causing unrest among detainees. Detainees do not understand why they are only allowed to speak to their partners or family members with a plexiglass screen in between, as dozens of employees walk in and out of the building every day.

COVID-19 killed United States prisoner Charles Hobbs


This 14 June 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Charles Hobbs Died of COVID-19 While in Prison | NowThis

Charles Hobbs, who was held in prison before his trial because he couldn’t afford bail, pleaded for help before dying of COVID-19.

The coronavirus pandemic has a disparate impact on different communities, and few places are more dangerous than prisons and jails. COVID, which already disproportionately affects communities of color, is particularly dangerous in close, confined, unsanitary places like prisons, which themselves house a disproportionate amount of people of color thanks to systemic racism.

For COVID, prisons are a fertile breeding ground, and the vulnerable populations inside are at extreme risk of getting ill and dying in coronavirus prisons. In the era of COVID 19, prisons and prisoners are not getting the attention or resources needed to keep prisoners safe, and it’s time to stop turning a blind eye to the horrors occurring inside prisons.

Will coronavirus kill imprisoned Assange for Trump?


Protesters outside Westminster Magistrates Court, London, England demanding WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange be released from Belmarsh prison – 150 prison staff are feared to have the coronavirus

From daily News Line in Britain, 14 April 2020:

Coronavirus ripping through Belmarsh

BELMARSH High Security prison is suffering from an outbreak of coronavirus to such an extent that it is ‘barely functioning’, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has revealed to a friend.

Assange has been languishing in the UK maximum security prison since April 2019.

British freelance video journalist Vaughan Smith revealed this shocking state of affairs, after talking with him by phone.

As many as 150 prison staff members have been forced into self-isolation as they might have contracted the coronavirus, Smith said. The prison admitted in mid-March that the disease had already reached its premises and even reported one coronavirus-linked inmate death.

Assange told Smith that the real death toll might well be higher, since ‘the virus is ripping through the prison.’

The WikiLeaks founder has to spend almost 24 hours alone in his cell as the prison apparently strives to limit any contact to stem the spread of the disease.

Yet Assange and other inmates spend the half an hour of exercise they are still allowed in a yard crowded with others, according to his friend.

Smith has reported on the WikiLeaks founder’s condition in Belmarsh before.

The journalist, who has known Assange for years, raised the alarm about his health back in 2019 following another phone call, which made Smith think he had been drugged in jail.

The Prison Governors’ Association recently said that 15,000 non-violent inmates should be released from British jails to stop the spread of Covid-19.

The Justice Department then suggested releasing just 4,000 of them. But only some 100 people have been set free, Smith notes, adding that Assange apparently did not make the list.

Assange’s treatment by the British authorities is nothing short of a ‘national disgrace’, the journalist said.

The UK has refused to set him free despite repeated pleas from various activists, doctors, Australian MPs and even the UN torture rapporteur.

The British government has also carried on with Assange’s extradition hearings, at a time when he is unable to consult with his lawyers to properly prepare his defence, Smith added.

Meanwhile, Julian Assange’s lawyer and mother of his two children, Stella Morris, warned that his ‘life is on the brink’ and she does not believe he would ‘survive infection with coronavirus’.

This 11 April 2020 WikiLeaks video says about itself:

Julian Assange’s fiancée (and children) talks to camera for the first time on the one year anniversary of his imprisonment.

Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-ND 4.0)

The News Line article continues:

In an interview over the weekend, Morris said that she had met Assange in 2011 when she joined his legal team.

She visited him in the embassy almost every day and ‘got to know Julian very well’. The couple fell in love in 2015 and got engaged two years later.

She said that Assange had watched both boys being born via video link and they had visited their father at the embassy.

Three-year-old Gabriel and one-year-old Max speak to their father via video calls, she says.

‘Forming a family was a deliberate decision to break down those walls around him and imagine a life beyond that of prison’, she said.

Coronavirus and Bahraini political prisoners news


Banner by Zaanstad prisoners, photo by Jolanda van Velzen

This photo by Jolanda van Velzen in Zaanstad in the Netherlands shows a banner made by inmates of the local prison. It says: ‘We stay inside. So should you‘. Apparently, in the Zaanstad prison there is space for spatial distancing during the coronavirus crisis. So, the prisoners don’t lose their sense of humour.

The situation in many prisons all over the world is much worse.

From Reuters news agency:

In overcrowded cells, Bahrain’s political prisoners fear coronavirus threat

9 April 2020

DUBAI – When jailed Bahraini activist Abdullah Habeeb Swar developed a bad cough that lasted several days, his 14 cellmates feared he might have contracted the coronavirus and would spread it through their overcrowded wing.

They share a cell designed to sleep eight in one of three wings in Manama’s Jaw prison reserved for detainees sentenced on security-related charges.

“You can imagine how scared they were,” Swar told Reuters by telephone, referring to last month’s coughing fits.

He is one of hundreds of opposition politicians, activists, journalists and human rights defenders sentenced in mass trials. Detained in 2019 after six years in hiding and serving a 40-year term, Swar said he was not seen by a doctor.

Western-allied Bahrain has come under pressure from human rights organisations over prison conditions including overcrowding, poor sanitation and lack of medical care.

In common with other countries in the Middle East and beyond, it has freed some prisoners … in response to the epidemic. The country has recorded more than 800 COVID-19 cases with five deaths.

But the around 1,500 freed so far exclude individuals jailed on national security grounds.

Rights groups including Amnesty International last week jointly called Bahraini authorities to release those who “peacefully exercised their rights to freedom of expression”, especially elderly prisoners or those with existing health conditions.

“The authorities don’t like to be seen to bend to political pressure,” said Marc Owen Jones of the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter.

Mass trials became commonplace in Bahrainhome to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet – after a failed uprising in 2011 … Since then, the country has seen sporadic clashes between protesters and security forces

OPPOSITION LEADERS

Rights group have particularly voiced concern for ageing detainees or those with medical conditions, including opposition leader Hassan Mushaima and activist Abdulhadi Al Khawaja.

Al Khawaja turned 60 this week and he is the youngest,” said Ala’a Shehabi, a researcher at University College London.

Prominent among younger political detainees are Sheikh Ali Slaman, leader of dissolved opposition group al-Wefaq, and human rights defender Nabeel Rajab.

Prison authorities have banned family visits as a precaution, inmate Ali Hussein al-Haji told Reuters by telephone. But he and other prisoners said most prison guards and other staff do not wear protective gear.

“If coronavirus were to spread in Bahrain’s overcrowded prison, the effect will be catastrophic,” said Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, director of advocacy at London-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy.

Lords call on government to save Bahraini torture victims from execution: here.

Coronavirus, other United States prisons scandals


This 3 April 2020 video says about itself:

Slave Labor, Dire Conditions: A TRNN Update On Prisons And COVID-19

Eddie Conway talks to journalists Kim Kelly and Adryan Corcione about how the coronavirus pandemic is exposing the poor healthcare system in US prisons and jails.

New York Rikers Island prisoners on strike


This 27 March 2020 video about New York City in the USA says about itself:

Rikers Island Prisoners Strike for Soap, Cleaning Wipes

Journalist Kim Kelly has been in contact with a prisoner inside Rikers Island. She talks with TRNN’s Eddie Conway about why immediate further action is needed to protect people from COVID-19.

Coronavirus endangers United States prisoners


This 24 March 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

The Clock Is Ticking On Keeping Incarcerated Citizens Safe

As COVID-19 spreads, experts call for the release of the most vulnerable people in prisons and jails.

This 24 March 2020 video from the USA is called “Top Priority Is Release”: Will Rikers Island Free More Prisoners as 60+ Test Positive for COVID-19?

US candidate Bloomberg’s forced labour presidential campaign


This 25 December 2019 video from the USA is called Mike Bloomberg Exploited Prisoners to Make 2020 Presidential Campaign Phone Calls.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Bloomberg hired prisoners for phone calls to voters

US American prisoners have approached potential voters by telephone on behalf of Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg. The billionaire and former mayor of New York City confirmed that on Twitter.

A call center was hired for the campaign, using prisoners locked up in New Jersey and Oklahoma. From at least one of those state prisons convicts called on behalf of that Democratic campaign, the US American news site The Intercept reported yesterday. …

From a women’s prison in Oklahoma, detainees are said to have called people in California. As a call center employee, they could earn $ 1.45 per hour, the BBC writes.

Some of Mr Bloomberg’s fellow billionaires would love it if not only these imprisoned women forced labourers, but all workers in the USA would make just $ 1.45 per hour.

It looks like billionaire Bloomberg is too stingy to pay campaign workers decent wages; and/or that not enough people in the USA are enthusiastic enough about Bloomberg’s pro-Big Business policies to volunteer to campaign for him.

Will Bloomberg now hire Beavis and Butthead to do propaganda phone calls for his presidential campaign?

At the end of November, Bloomberg officially applied for next year’s presidential election. He says he wants to invest $ 100 million in an online advertising campaign.

Private prisons fat cat attacks anti-xenophobia activists


This 29 August 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Private Prison CEO Targets AOC

This CEO is getting triggered by AOC. Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian, hosts of The Young Turks, break it down.

“The CEO of GEO Group, the largest private prison operator in the U.S., decried protests against the firm’s migrant detention facilities as well as a range of other subjects including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), the Jewish activist group Never Again Action, and “misguided individuals” who “defamed the American flag”. in an internal email obtained exclusively by The Young Turks.

The email, sent on August 19 by George Zoley, GEO’s founder and CEO, comes on the heels of a series of high-profile demonstrations at numerous migrant detention facilities operated by the company.

Asked about Zoley including Ocasio-Cortez in his email, a spokesperson for GEO told TYT, “Organizations that have threatened our employees or taken violent action against our company have also directly used the same terminology as Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, including ‘concentration camp’”
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Read more here.

DHS BLOCKS HOUSE REPS FROM DETENTION CENTERS The Department of Homeland Security is blocking House Oversight Committee staff from visiting migrant detention centers after previous inspections revealed serious problems at the border facilities, according to the committee. [HuffPost]