COVID-19 rises in state prisons, some think it is time for overall prison reform

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Posted at 9:11 PM, Nov 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-18 14:18:48-05

MADISON (NBC 26) -- The Department of Corrections is reporting alarming numbers of new cases in Wisconsin prisons. On Monday, they reported 808 new cases of COVID-19, the largest to date. Now some are asking for immediate action from lawmakers.

"We are not surprised by the spike," said Marian Boyle-Rohloff, a prison reform advocate. "Our prisons are very crowded."

According to the DOC, they say the spread is similar to all types of community spread. In a statement they said:

"It is a highly-contagious virus. And in a congregate housing facility when a large number of people are living together a small number of cases can quickly become a large number of cases."

This echoes Boyle-Rohloff's press for action. She thinks if the prisons were not crowded, the spread wouldn't be as bad.

"There are so many who are in for addiction and mental health," she said. "We decided to use incarceration for treatment instead of our health care system."

She also says COVID-19 is not something the inmates should have to deal with.

"Even if their sentence is justified, and there in for the right reasons, we can't just say oh well here is Covid, you have to deal with it," she said.

The Department of Corrections said they have implemented many safety measures to limit the spread. They say this includes sanitizing and cleaning frequently, and giving staff necessary protective gear.