Community advocates fear for health of inmates after several dozen test positive for virus

Posted: Updated:

As coronavirus cases continue to surge worldwide, there are major concerns from community advocates about the health of those in jails and prisons across the city. 

GET INFORMATION: Coronavirus details from the CDC
Coronavirus Prevention: What you can do to protect yourself

This comes after several dozen inmates have tested positive at Rikers Island. Members with the organization New Yorkers United For Justice were joined by legal experts Monday to call on the state for a plan focused on protecting inmates.

A few of the factors they say could help are: 

- Reducing the number of people going into the system. 

- Moving non-violent inmates to another facility 

- Considering home detention for the older people

This is a move being considered at a federal level, but advocates say they want the state to make a decision now. 


The city has already released 23 older inmates to prevent exposure to the coronavirus. "The best social distancing you can get is maybe 2 or 3 feet away from your neighbor. As we all know facilities all across the state are jam-packed, overcrowded to some extent. People are literally on top of each other. Health care delivery and health care precautions in those facilities are all too often non-existent,” said chief strategist for NYUJ, Khalil Cumberbatch. 

News 12 reached out to the city’s Department of Corrections and they tell News 12 that they have 864 people in custody in the 50 years or older range, who are at risk for coronavirus-related complications. 

They tell News 12 they are following an action plan to keep inmates healthy, including screening anyone who is taken into custody. 

Advocates say this is also about the health of the staff at these facilities after several DOC employees have already tested positive for the coronavirus.

sorry to interrupt
your first 20 are free
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please enjoy 20 complimentary views of articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.
you have reached your 20 view limit
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please login or create an account to continue enjoying News12.
Our sign-up page is undergoing maintenance and is not currently available. However, you will be given direct access to while we complete our upgrade.
When we are back up and running you will be prompted at that time to complete your sign in. Until then, enjoy the local news, weather, traffic and more that's "as local as local news gets."