Texas Prisons More Seriously Impacted by COVID-19


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Texas Prisons More Seriously Impacted by COVID-19

A recent report out of the University of Texas at Austin called COVID and Corrections shares some concerning information about Texas prisons and COVID-19. This report is yet another indictment of the Texas penal system, which has had a dismal reputation for a long time now. By failing to meet the requirements necessary to navigate a global pandemic, the State of Texas is putting prisoners – especially older prisoners – at increased health risks.

The Report

According to the UT report, all of the following are true (as of its writing in November 2020):

  • Among the incarcerated and prison staff in Texas, there have been more COVID-19 cases and deaths than in any other penal system in the nation.

  • There have been at least 231 deaths among those incarcerated in Texas prisons and jails and their staff since the pandemic’s onset.

  • Those incarcerated in Texas are 490 percent more likely to test positive for COVID-19 than citizens of Texas are as a whole.

These are jaw-dropping statistics that shine a harsh light on the Texas penal system.

The Texas Tribune Fleshes Out the Story

The Texas Tribune provides more context to the report, and the news is not good. Consider the following:

  • The COVID-19 infection rate for Texas prisons per 10,000 people is second only to Florida.

  • Texas has the largest jail and prison population in the nation.

  • The already grim statistics are very likely underestimated because the Texas Department of Criminal Justice only tallies COVID-19 fatalities after final autopsies have been performed, which is a three to six-month process compared to preliminary autopsies, which take about two weeks for results. Further, not every death in the prison system led to a COVID-19 test, and some deaths were related to preexisting conditions that were dangerously exacerbated by the virus.

The Texas Penal System Does Not Have Control of the Problem

The UT study shares that Texas, New Jersey, Ohio, and Michigan reported the highest COVID-19-related prison deaths when the pandemic began (with about 30 to 40 deaths per month). However, since then, the other states quickly addressed the issue and reduced their death tolls to about five a month. By the time summer came to a close, only the State of Texas was still reporting more than 30 COVID-19-related inmate deaths each month. The study’s lead researcher relays that the state has not made a concerted effort to gain control of this terrifying health concern in its prison system, and the incarcerated and prison staff are paying the ultimate price for this lapse.

It Is Time to Consult with an Experienced Killeen Criminal Defense Attorney

Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard – proudly serving Killeen, Texas, for more than two decades – is a dedicated criminal defense attorney with an impressive track record of helping clients like you obtain favorable case resolutions that uphold their constitutional rights.

To learn more, please do not hesitate to contact us online or call us at 254-501-4040 today.
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