#Coronavirus prison cases raise alarms, calls for inmate release

10:55, Monday, 23 March, 2020
#Coronavirus prison cases raise alarms, calls for inmate release

The confirmation of several coronavirus cases in the United States's expansive prison system this week has drawn concern from health experts and families of inmates alike.

Rikers Island, a notoriously tough prison administered by the New York City Department of Corrections (NYC DOC), saw the first confirmed case of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, with an inmate on Wednesday. That followed prison workers with confirmed cases at Sing Sing and a facility in Albany, New York.

An employee of the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) at an administrative facility in Texas tested positive, along with another BOP employee in New Hampshire who may have had contact with inmates, according to local media

The cases signal a turning point in the US prison system, the conditions of which could foster the spread of the coronavirus.

"People who live in congregate settings, including detainees and prisoners, are at risk of acquiring this infection," Dr Robert Greifinger, former chief medical officer of the New York State Department of Correctional Services, told Al Jazeera in an email.

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