We Need Negative Testing Numbers From County Jails

Matt Dragon @matt_dragon
Published: 04/10/2020

COVID-19 is sweeping through our local area including our county jails. The time for preparation has passed. All local jails have staff and inmate infections even though almost no inmates have been tested.

In Essex County some positive cases were only discovered during unrelated hospital visits. What made hospital medical staff think symptoms warranted a test when jail medical staff had not? In all counties, the number of acknowledged infections of inmates and detainees remains near zero. But, disturbingly, infections among guards continue to rapidly rise.

Testing would help keep guards and prisoners safe and avoid flooding hospitals with unnecessary patients. Counties keep pointing to low positive result counts but are not publishing negative result counts. One has to wonder why. Negative tests would show that the jail was being responsible and that at least one inmate was not infected. But that would require testing inmates.

It's now too late to prevent widespread infection and death in our county jails. But these are our prisoners, your prisoners, my prisoners. We must hold our officials accountable. Call or write your Freeholders to demand negative test counts. Demand continued compassionate releases to reduce population and allow for distancing. Demand accountability.

Topics: Essex County, NJICEImmigrationJail ReformCOVID-19North JerseyCriminal Justice Reform