The North Carolina Department of Public Safety (DPS) has one week to answer a lot of specific questions about its COVID-19 response in state prisons, according to an order released today by Wake County Superior Court Judge Vince Rozier.
Civil rights organizations, including the ACLU of North Carolina, Forward Justice and Disability Rights NC, along with some incarcerated people, sued the state and DPS alleging it was not doing enough to protect people behind bars from contracting COVID-19. Rozier heard arguments in the case earlier this week.
The plaintiffs asked Rozier to order a more robust plan with a faster release schedule to reduce the incarcerated population in North Carolina. They suggested the state start with the release of 3,000 incarcerated people who have 60 days or less to complete their sentence.
Attorneys for the state and DPS argued they already have implemented a plan to release some vulnerable incarcerated people and take precautions in prison that are consistent with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Rozier ordered both parties to confer and recommend the names of three special masters in the case, and he wants a facility-by-facility breakdown of how prison officials are protecting incarcerated people, including the quality and quantity of masks and the conditions of living and sleeping quarters.
Read his full order below.