MIAMI, FL – The ACLU of Florida sent a letter Monday to Governor DeSantis and Secretary Inch demanding transparency around reporting COVID-19 related deaths, whether incarcerated individuals are being tested for COVID-19, how medical quarantines are being operated, and generally how the department is working to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Florida prisons. With 95,000 individuals warehoused in Florida’s prisons, the high population creates both a public health and humanitarian crisis if an outbreak occurs.
As of May 31, the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) has reported 12 deaths due to COVID-19. As stated in the letter… “It appears that the reported 12 deaths only account for those who received testing prior to their death and does not account for any COVID-related deaths where individuals had not yet received testing or were tested after they had died. This is particularly concerning, as less than 15 percent of the prison population has received testing.”
Based on the lack of information being provided by the State and FDOC regarding the impact of COVID-19 in Florida prisons, ACLU of Florida is calling for the department to do the following:
- Release information regarding how many incarcerated individuals from each facility died for each month of January - June 2020, as compared to January – June 2019 to get a more accurate assessment of COVID-related deaths (because currently FDOC is only reporting the subset of individuals who received a positive COVID-19 test prior to their death).
- Test all those who are in medical quarantine, and remove those who test negative from medical quarantine.
- Test individuals prior to being put in medical quarantine, and if they test negative, they should not be quarantined with others.
- Provide health care treatment and related services free of charge to incarcerated individuals during the pendency of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
- Provide written information and clarification regarding the conditions in medical isolation at each facility.
- Provide assurances that incarcerated individuals are able to freely and frequently communicate with their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic through the normal channels.
“The Florida Department of Corrections is not being transparent with the public about the impact COVID-19 is having in Florida prisons,” said Micah Kubic, executive director of the ACLU of Florida. “We have questions about the accuracy of COVID-19 reported deaths in prisons, how FDOC is curbing the spread of COVID-19 in prisons, and the treatment of those in medical quarantine and isolation. This is unacceptable, both as a moral issue and for its implications on public health for incarcerated people, their loved ones, and the broader community. Secretary Inch and Governor DeSantis must answer the public's questions about how COVID-19 continues to impact incarcerated individuals and corrections staff. They have not been transparent, and that is unacceptable.”
The letter can be found here: https://www.aclufl.org/en/aclu-florida-letter-gov-desantis-and-secretary...