Report: NC receives failing grade in response to COVID-19 in jails

In a report released this month, the ACLU and Prison Policy Initiative gave North Carolina a failing grade after evaluating each state’s actions to save incarcerated people and facility staff from COVID-19.

Researchers found that most states have taken very little action in response to the pandemic, and while some states did more, no state leaders should be content with the steps they’ve taken thus far, states an article about the report.

“The results are clear: despite all of the information, voices calling for action, and the obvious need, state responses ranged from disorganized or ineffective, at best, to callously nonexistent at worst,” it states. “Even using data from criminal justice system agencies — that is, even using states’ own versions of this story — it is clear that no state has done enough and that all states failed to implement a cohesive, system-wide response.”

North Carolina received its failing grade because of a combination of things, including for not desegregating data about COVID-19 in the prisons by race, not releasing enough incarcerated people and for not committing to testing all residents, though the latter has changed in the past couple weeks.

The ACLU of NC and other civil rights organizations filed a suit against North Carolina and the Department of Public Safety (DPS) for not protecting individuals in prison. A judge issued a preliminary injunction, and DPS has since unveiled a plan to test all incarcerated people in its custody.

The state was also given a failing grade by the ACLU and Prison Policy Initiative because Gov. Roy Cooper hasn’t yet issued any executive orders for incarcerated people’s protection.

“The consequences are as tragic as they were predictable: As of June 22, 2020, over 570 incarcerated people and over 50 correctional staff have died and most of the largest coronavirus outbreaks are in correctional facilities, the report stayes. “This failure to act continues to put everyone’s health and life at risk — not only incarcerated people and facility staff, but the general public as well.”

Read the full report here, and each state’s report card here.

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