STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Staten Islander Jennifer Donnelly believes her son, who Lengthy Island police arrested in November, is harmless — however irrespective of the result of his trial she’s nervous about coronavirus (COVID-19) within the state’s jail and jail methods.
Suffolk County Police arrested 19-year-old Robert Diaz on Nov. 2 for alleged gun possession and violation of a court docket order. He’s been held since then within the county’s jail system on bail of both $50,000 money or $100,000 bond.
Donnelly, of Elm Park, mentioned Diaz examined constructive for the virus in December, and has been topic to a number of transfers by the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Workplace, which oversees the jails, making it troublesome to remain in contact with him.
Moreover, her son — who’s an aspiring rapper — has bronchial asthma, making him extra inclined to the results of the virus, and as circumstances rise across the state and nation, Donnelly mentioned her worries solely develop.
“I’m very stressed about my son’s situation,” she mentioned. “I can’t get any info once I name the jail cell, they gained’t inform me something about him.”
She mentioned she’s heard from different households with family within the jail system which have comparable issues in regards to the circumstances.
COVID IN NY’S JAILS AND PRISONS
The pandemic has impacted each inmates and workers throughout the state’s jail and jail methods.
Because the begin of the pandemic, 3,952 workers members and 4,502 inmates had confirmed circumstances of the virus as of Wednesday, based on the state Division of Correction and Neighborhood Supervision (DOCCS).
The identical knowledge confirmed seven workers and 29 inmates died on account of the virus.
In response to the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention (CDC), solely 6% of deaths associated to the pandemic listed COVID-19 because the lone trigger. Co-morbidities embrace most cancers, weight problems, and present respiratory points, according to the CDC.
Of the 4,502 inmates with confirmed circumstances, 3,379 have recovered leaving 1,123 of the 40,956 inmates housed within the system’s 52 services contaminated with the virus.
MITIGATING THE SPREAD
Chief Deputy for the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Workplace, Michael Sharkey, advised the Advance/SILive.com that the jail system has been “very aggressive” in mitigating the virus’ unfold, and mentioned that up till Thanksgiving it had solely had two inmate circumstances associated to in-facility unfold.
“Everybody has been coping with this pandemic since final March, and we’ve been very, very profitable in our services in initiating safeguards to maintain issues at a minimal,” he mentioned. “There’s been that ‘second surge,’ if you’ll, since Thanksgiving and that has impacted us as nicely.”
Along with a compulsory masks coverage and required temperature checks for workers getting into the ability, Sharkey mentioned there’s round the clock medical workers on the their services and laid out among the division’s protocols for quarantine, together with:
- New inmates and inmates returning to services are robotically placed on a 14-day quarantine away from the prevailing jail inhabitants and monitored to see in the event that they develop COVID signs.
- Quarantine protocol additionally goes into place for whole housing areas the place an inmate checks constructive.
Precise testing for the virus amongst inmates is a choice that’s in the end made by the Suffolk County Division of Well being Providers.
On Tuesday, Donnelly mentioned she obtained a letter from the warden at her son’s jail informing her in regards to the protocols they’ve in place, however that it didn’t ease her worries as a result of she says it contradicts what she’s been listening to from her son.
“I don’t assume I’ll ever really feel higher in regards to the state of affairs. I don’t assume (the letter) actually helped,” she mentioned.
CLEMENCY, VACCINATION FOR INMATES?
The Authorized Help Society of New York has advocated for launch of a number of inmates, who’re at larger threat from the virus, within the state’s jail and jail methods.
Legal professionals for Authorized Help have filed greater than 100 COVID-19 clemency purposes for the reason that begin of the pandemic, however Gov. Andrew Cuomo has granted only one.
Their shoppers searching for clemency embrace a 59-year-old man with stage-two leukemia, hypertension and “kidney illness,” and a 62-year-old man with HIV and a warmth murmur. Each males have sturdy disciplinary information, and are serving time for low-level drug offenses, based on the Authorized Help Society.
As New York has begun its vaccination course of, Authorized Help has additionally referred to as for the state to start providing the vaccine to its incarcerated inhabitants.
Whereas the governor has approved vaccination for jail and jail staffs across the state, inmates have but to be approved regardless of CDC recommendations to vaccinate inmates and workers on the identical time, “due to their shared elevated threat of illness.
“Outbreaks in correctional and detention services are sometimes troublesome to regulate given the lack to bodily distance, restricted area for isolation or quarantine, and restricted testing and private protecting tools sources.”
In a Thursday media launch, Supervising Lawyer with the Prisoners’ Rights Challenge at The Authorized Help Society, Stefen Brief identified that inmate vaccinations had been authorised in different states, together with Iowa, Massachusetts, and Virginia.
“Whereas governors in different states take decisive motion to stem the unfold of COVID-19 in carceral settings, Governor Cuomo has ignored the appeals of well being consultants, who agree that prisons and jails are excessive threat settings that ought to be prioritized for vaccine entry,” Brief mentioned.
“In view of those each day sizable will increase in confirmed virus circumstances in DOCCS, it’s unconscionable that Governor Cuomo continues to disclaim our shoppers lifesaving aid. We demand motion now,” Brief continued.
DOCCS spokesperson Thomas Mailey mentioned the division is working with the state Division of Well being to develop a plan to vaccinate the system’s inmates.
Concerning Diaz’s incarceration, Deputy Chief Sharkey identified that, after the state’s latest bail reform, solely individuals charged with probably the most critical crimes are held with bail whereas awaiting their trial. Diaz’s subsequent look is scheduled for Feb. 4, based on on-line court docket information.
Donnelly mentioned she understands that folks have to be held accountable for his or her actions, however that extra consideration must be given to inmates’ well being throughout the pandemic.
“I want to assist my son and the opposite inmates,” she mentioned. “They’re trapped in a dwelling nightmare, the circumstances of those services are already disgusting, now they’re preventing for his or her well being.”