While the rest of the world is beleaguered by the aftermaths of pandemic COVID-19, jails and detention centers have become the new epicenter of the deadly virus. Immigration detainees in the US, for instance, complain that they have not been issued masks or other cleaning supplies to ensure prevention of the disease. Detainees rue that the jails are overcrowded with over 15 people, in some cases, sharing a room. Social distancing is far from being achieved since the number of detainees have been rising. To add to the problems being faced by inmates, the Otay Mesa Detention Center jumped from one positive case to 15 within a span of three days, which is alarming.
Detainees are being forced to give undertaking that they will not hold detention centres responsible for infections
Amid official denials, rumours are rife that detainees were offered masks in exchange for a signature on a paper which said that even if they got infected, the detention center will not be held responsible. Officials, however, disagree stating that the paper was an acknowledgement for receipt of masks and safety gears.
Meanwhile, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement has decided to lower the number of detainees for fear of increasing the number of COVID cases. It has also decided to relieve inmates who have been held for non-violent offences.
The number of detainees in the ICE centers are still worrying, despite extensive screening and reduction. It is said that the totals have now reduced from 37,000 to 33,000 after the onslaught of COVID. Although the Trump Government has stopped all asylum claims during the pandemic, it still has to worry about people apprehended for several months or years earlier for civil violation, including the 5,800 people who have gone through government asylum screenings.
Considering Safety of Jail Keepers- US too keen to release detainees
While this is just one side of the coin, there is another side to worry about. The safety of the jail keepers and the security personnel who are stationed in jails. While they have been issued safety gears without any delays, some detainees claim that jailors still search their belongings without any mask or gloves, which increases the chances of transmission.