Screenshot taken by Ian Vargas.

Incarcerated students and COVID-19

HSU’s formerly incarcerated students club talks about the effects of Covid-19 in prisons

HSU’s Formerly Incarcerated Students Club hosted a webinar on March 5 to highlight the effects of COVID-19 in prisons and ways in which those effects could be mitigated. The Formerly Incarcerated Students Club also works with Project Rebound, an organization that helps formerly incarcerated students return to life outside prison and advocates for solutions to the United States’ high prison rates.

With incarceration rates being as high as they are in the US, prisons can be a prime breeding ground for COVID-19, and often are left without much in the way of support or resources to help combat it. This lack of support can greatly endanger the lives of many people in prison who are highly vulnerable.

The state and the CDC both have implemented guidelines for ensuring that prisons remain safe, but these guidelines are often not nearly enough to ensure that people are actually secured. COVID rates in state prisons are often significantly higher than the rates seen in the state as a whole. Considering that at least 17% of inmates are over 45 and are at increased risk of severe symptoms, this lack of security can be a death sentence for people whose crimes are relatively minor.

According to Jazmin Delgado, President of the FISC and student support for Project Rebound, the responsibility for this comes primarily down to states failing to properly implement safety measures in state prisons. While prisons may test staff and inmates, only half of US states actually require prison staff to wear a mask, and most do not stock adequate soap and disinfectant for inmates in accordance with CDC guidelines. This comes partially from a lack of resources, but also a lack of effort.

“State facilities are either A) not implementing these guidelines,” Delgado said. “Or B) not implementing them to the fullest of their abilities.”

Ultimately, a large part of the problem is that prisons are simply not built to allow for proper social distancing and safety measures. Prisons in the US have people constantly coming in and out, both staff and inmates. Additionally, people are packed so close together that the only way for them to properly isolate themselves would be solitary confinement, which is itself deeply undesirable and discourages inmates from revealing if they have symptoms or not. This has led to large spikes in the numbers of cases of COVID-19 in state prisons, which can become spikes in the surrounding areas when correctional staff return home later.

According to Project Rebound’s Jeremy Teitz, these guidelines are almost impossible to implement and getting harder with rising prison populations.

“How are these guidelines that are already near impossible to follow going to be followed when jail populations are increasing?” Tietz said. “Jails aren’t made for social distancing, and I’m not sure how the CDC thought jails would implement these guidelines.”

Incarceration in the US is a problem that is getting worse. Project Rebound hopes to assist students who have served prison sentences and to advocate for solutions to this continually rising issue, such as lowering sentencing for nonviolent crimes and allowing for individuals to get their felony records expunged and reenter the workforce. In the words of Project Rebounds Program Coordinator and HSU Graduate Tony Wallin, this is an issue that affects everyone, not just people who are currently imprisoned.

“We’re at this weird time where things have exploded and you don’t see people who aren’t affected,” Wallin said “One in three people have a criminal record. There are the same amount of people who have criminal records as have college degrees.”

Share This Post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email
Share on reddit

More Stories

Photo by Abraham Navarro | Cowboy Daddy's Drummer and Keyboard player Conner West, 25, and guitarist Skye Freitas, 24, jam out at the Gutswurrak Student Activity Center on April 28.

Local bands rock the Gutswurrak

by Ione Dellos Band members wait in front of the bathrooms, eyes anxiously fluttering from the stage to the growing audience in the Gutswurrak Student Activities Center. After the deepest sigh one could possibly take, they make their way to

Travis Allen pole vaults at the Green and Gold Track Event on Feb. 12 Photo by Morgan Hancock.

Athlete’s outperform at decathlon

by Carlos Pedraza The Cal Poly Humboldt Track and Field team participated in the Stanislaus State Multi-Event from Thursday April 7 to Saturday April 9. The team participated in over 10 different events, all of which were multi-day involving different

Photo by Morgan Hancock | Izzy Star hits a home run in final softball game of the season at the Bear River Recreation Center in Loleta, California on Saturday, April 30.

Cal Poly Humboldt plays its last softball game of the series

by Eddie Carpenter On April 30, Cal Poly Humboldt Softball played the last two games of their series against Cal State San Marcos. Due to weather conditions, the softball games had to be relocated to the Bear River Recreation Center

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply