Covid-19 in Ohio’s Prisons

Covid-19 In Ohio’s Prisons 


Ohio, USA — The week of April 20, Ohio prisons began aggressive Coronavirus testing of all inmates and guards. The massive testing puts Ohio with the largest number of jailed coronavirus patients in the country. In multiple prisons, large percentages have tested positive including Marion county jail with over 70% percent of their guard and inmate population testing positive. The week before mass testing at Marion county jail, the first positive case was confirmed at the Butler county jail. Both the inmate and his cell mate were quarantined in a separate facility.

The Ohio Department for Rehabilitation and Correction recently released testing that showed almost 30,000 inmates in quarantine with more 2,000 having tested positive and even more in self-isolation.

Mike Dewine, Governor of Ohio, has a list of 205 inmates eligible for early release. As of now, no inmates have been released, but the Governor did release the list of names that should be eligible. Eligibility requires an inmate to be up for release within the next 90 days and have a non-violent charge.  This includes people such as James McFadden who stole more than $250,000 in a Medicaid insurance fraud.

However, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio (ACLU of Ohio) , 205 people is nowhere near enough. The ACLU states that they warned Governor DeWine of the issues with overcrowding.

 “Governor DeWine has only released about 1% of Ohio’s total prison population,” said Jocelyn Rosnick, Policy Director for the ACLU of Ohio, in a press briefing.  “Which is already over capacity by over 10,000 people. These requests will allow us to see the bigger picture.”

Despite DeWine’s plan of limited prisoner release, Ohio is the only state mass testing any prisons with even one case. Which of course raises the question, why are we mass testing prisoners if we don’t plan to release them? Based on limited comment by Governor DeWine, it is likely to help prevent the spread within prisons and outside of them. 

According to the ACLU of Ohio, as of April 28, over 3,000 have been affected with the Coronavirus and at least 25 have died in the Ohio prisons. 

As of an April 28 update from Ohio’s Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, there are only four Ohio prisons without a unit under quarantine.