Title: US Prison Deaths Surge Amid COVID-19 Crisis: Study
In a groundbreaking study published by Science Advances, it has been revealed that the COVID-19 pandemic led to a significant increase in deaths within the US prison system last year. The analysis, considered the most comprehensive to date, shows a staggering 77% rise in mortality rates compared to 2019, surpassing the rise in the general population by more than three times.
The study, which collected data from 49 state and federal departments of corrections, highlights COVID-19 as the primary driver behind the increased mortality rates, accounting for deaths due to natural causes. Furthermore, some states also experienced a notable uptick in deaths attributed to unnatural causes.
Naomi Sugie, the lead author, underlines the lack of understanding surrounding the true toll of COVID-19 within prisons. The study points out systemic failures within the prison system that amplified the risk of illness and limited access to adequate medical care. Additionally, the strict lockdown measures, intended to curb the spread of the virus, inadvertently intensified stress, mental health challenges, and violence, contributing to deaths caused by drug overdoses, suicide, and violence.
The report also sheds light on the dire conditions and potential human rights violations prevalent in California prisons. As part of the PrisonPandemic project, this initiative emphasized the urgent need for effective measures to safeguard prisoners’ health and address existing shortcomings in the system.
A concerning aspect highlighted in the study is the lack of publicly available information regarding prison mortality since 2019, despite the Death in Custody Reporting Act. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reported approximately 2,500 COVID-19-related deaths between March 2020 and February 2021. However, these figures failed to consider the rise in mortality rates due to natural or unnatural causes.
Similar to the general population, where not all states conducted systematic testing, many deaths related to the pandemic may not have been officially recorded as COVID-19-related. Consequently, the true extent of the impact on prisoners remains unknown, further accentuating the urgency for comprehensive reporting and better accountability within the prison system.
As the study unravels the alarming rise in prison deaths during the peak of the COVID-19 crisis, it calls for immediate action to rectify the systemic deficiencies and prioritize the well-being of incarcerated individuals. Recognizing the urgency to protect the rights and health of prisoners, it is imperative for authorities to implement strategic measures that ensure proper medical care, mental health support, and proactive prevention strategies within correctional facilities.
“The News Teller” remains committed to shedding light on this crucial matter and will continue to advocate for change within the US prison system to ensure the fair treatment and safety of all individuals.
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