COVID-19 Attacking The Prison Staff More Than Inmates

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September 29th, 2020

OMAHA – Nebraska is the second state with overcrowded prisons, next to Alabama the state with a serious problem in its prisons system.

In July the inmate population in the Nebraska Department of Correctional Service facilities was about 150 percent capacity.

Paul Fielmann

Paul Feilmann is a prison rights activist and volunteer at the state penitentiary, he thought that when the pandemic hit the Nebraska prisons it would become a hot spot.

According to the Nebraska Department of Correctional Service or NDCS, last week  2,102 inmates had been tested, 210 testing positive approximately 10.0% and only one death was reported.

A relatively low number given the circumstance of overcrowded prisons.

Doug Koebernick Inspector General of the Nebraska Correctional System. has closely monitored the number of positive cases in the prisons. He too was surprised.

Doug Koebernic

Apart from two outbreaks but without major consequence, more prison personnel have been infected with the corona virus than inmates.

Koebernick’s job is primarily to report to lawmakers on conditions and problems in prisons. He regularly visited these places to establish direct communication with inmates, but for now the best way for him to be available is by a hot-line and social media.

In March with the pandemic, visits stopped entirely. Then in July an attempt was made to give family and friends an opportunity to visit, but an outbreak followed. Up to date, visits are prohibited. Opportunities to have communication by phone have been more accessible.

He also thinks that because the sentences were halted by the pandemic, at least 300 prisoners have not reached the state prison, diminishing in some way the problem of overcrowding.

At the same time, prisons are implementing the use of masks and some inmates are working for extra money to keep the cells disinfected with bleach.

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