The news that more than 80% of the incarcerated 2,500 prisoners held in Ohio’s Marion Correctional Institution have tested positive for COVID-19 was perhaps the most shocking of many recent stories addressing the connection between the global pandemic and American prisons and jails.
Others have featured a South Dakota woman who gave birth while on a ventilator and then died of coronavirus days later (her baby survived); a Michigan man who succumbed to the virus just weeks before his parole after spending 44 years in prison; a Pennsylvania man who had spent more than 20 years on death row and was up for a hearing to fight for exoneration in March, but now finds himself fighting for his life while severely stricken with COVID-19; and the panic of family members who are unable to communicate with loved ones behind bars.
While the pandemic has heightened human sensibilities and connections across the world, it should also generate compassion for the plight of incarcerated people, a population that mainstream society has largely discarded and abandoned. In a sense, this acute crisis may have indirectly created a poignant opportunity to recognize the forgotten humanity of prisoners.
Read the full story at USA Today.