ACLU and Others Seek Information on What Jail Officials Knew About COVID-19 Spread in Jails and Prisons

By Terrance Kelly | CBS 46 | April 30, 2020

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ATLANTA (CBS46)— The American Civil Liberties and other organizations are working to determine how elected leaders and prison officials responded to the COVID-19 outbreak in jails and prisons.

According to a press release, the ACLU of Georgia and 35 ACLU affiliates filed coordinated public records requests with Georgia and President Trump’s administration.

The records requests seek information on what the Bureau of Prisons, governors, and the department of corrections knew about the impacts of COVID-19 on prisons and the surrounding communities, the release stated.

According to the ACLU, there have been 296 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 8 COVID-19 related deaths in Georgia Department of Correction facilities.

The press release stated “the ACLU is now filing these FOIA requests to find out what the administration knew and when it knew it, as COVID-19 has begun to infect and kill people incarcerated in and working in federal and state prisons and jails”.

The ACLU of Georgia is seeking records that will:

  • Expose whether and when Governor Kemp and Commissioner Ward first understood the magnitude of the risk that COVID-19 posed to people living and working in state and federal prisons and the surrounding communities;
  • Reveal whether models relied upon by Georgia were fundamentally flawed by failing to account for the magnifying effect that prisons have on the spread of COVID-19 inside and outside detention facilities;
  • Seek copies of any recommendations made to prevent COVID-19 spread to see what was ignored;
  • Discover communications, including emails, among senior officials as the first infections and deaths occurred within the Georgia Department of Corrections and state facilities;
  • Uncover firsthand complaints and grievances made directly by the staff and people incarcerated in Georgia who had prior knowledge of the horrifying lack of planning, hygiene, and care inside federal prisons as the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Terrance Kelly