prison

COVID-19 spreads most easily when people are in close proximity. But for more than 26,000 inmates housed in Indiana's prisons, close proximity to other people is a part of life. State officials say they're working to prevent the virus from spreading in prisons, but those inside say it isn’t happening. 

Justin Hicks, Indiana Public Broadcasting

This story was updated at 3:45 p.m. on April 30, 2020 to include new information on Edwards' release date.

On the day Scottie Edwards died, he nearly fell over on the way to the bathroom. A pair of fellow inmates at the Westville Correctional Facility propped him up and got him to sit down on a toilet. 

“He had been sick for about a week and a half,” says one inmate named Josh in a recorded call. He asked to be identified by his first name, because he fears retaliation from prison staff. 

Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections

Prisoners can be heard coughing on calls coming out of Marion Correctional Institution, a minimum- and medium-security facility an hour north of Columbus, Ohio.

And mass testing recently revealed more than 80% of prisoners has contracted COVID-19, making Marion the nation's largest known COVID-19 hotspot.

Justin Hicks

During Monday’s coronavirus news conference, Gov. Eric Holcomb was optimistic about the situation statewide. He emphasized Indiana’s COVID-19 data. 

“I believe that Indiana is, quite frankly, faring better than some other locales around the world,” he said. “We’ll continue to be very transparent about those numbers.”

WFIU/WTIU

This post was updated at 1:05 pm on 4/13/20 to include new infections reported by the state. 

On Monday, April 6, an inmate at Indiana’s Plainfield Correctional Facility stayed up late. From his bunk, he composed two messages. In the first, he told his son that he loves him, that he’s proud of him. 

In the second message, he told his wife he was scared. “I can tell you right now, with nearly 100% certainty, that I am going to get this virus,” he wrote. The man’s wife says he suffers from lung disease, which could increase the chances of complications from COVID-19. 

WFIU/WTIU

Updated 04/08/2020 at 5:24 pm.

On Wednesday, Indiana's Joint Information Center confirmed to Side Effects that 10 prisoners in state Department of Correction facilities have now tested positive for COVID-19, along with 20 agency employees. 

Christine Herman/Illinois Public Media

Ashoor Rasho has spent more than half of his life alone in a prison cell—22 to 24 hours a day. The cell was so narrow he could reach his arms out and touch both walls at once.

Joseph Shapiro/NPR

The Illinois Department of Corrections continues to flounder in its efforts to care for inmates with mental illness, according to a new report authored by Dr. Pablo Stewart, a psychiatrist and court-appointed monitor on a 2016 settlement agreement on a class-action lawsuit.

Paige Pfleger/Side Effects Public Media

Alisha Floyd bounces her son Chance on her lap. He giggles and pulls her hair.

“He’s the fattest baby here,” she says, laughing.

In 2005, Francis Brauner was a quarter of the way through a 20-year prison sentence at Dixon Correctional Institute in Louisiana, when he had an accident.

Brauner was imprisoned for a rape conviction, which he maintains was wrongful and part of a setup by a corrupt judge.

His sentence involved hard labor, and one day he was out in the fields, cutting the grass and he bent over to pick something up from the ground. He felt a sharp pain in his back.

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