Eight inmates at Prince George’s County jail are suing the Department of Corrections alleging improper conditions leading to the spread of the coronavirus.
“We know that a number of people in the jail are already infected, including staff members, and that’s not surprising because they’re still doing things like charging money for soap,” said senior attorney for the Civil Rights Corps Katie Chamblee-Ryan.
There are 21 correctional officers and 18 inmates from the jail who have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Prince George’s County jail began releasing non-violent offenders in March in an effort to reduce the jail’s population and promote social distancing.
Coronavirus Cases in DC, Maryland and Virginia
COVID-19 cases by population in D.C. and by county in Maryland and Virginia
There were 723 inmates in March and there are now 560.
“There are people in there who the court has approved for home detention, but pretrial services, it’s a division of the Department of Corrections who we’re suing, hasn’t let them out,” Chamblee-Ryan said.
On Wednesday, County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said the jail has been separating inmates in an effort to promote social distancing.
“We’re really just asking the court to order the jail to comply with the basic guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control,” Chamblee-Ryan said.
A spokesperson for Prince George’s County jail told News4 they are at the lowest population of inmates they have ever had, and they have been preparing for coronavirus since January.
“Medical staff members are going into housing units twice a day to monitor for symptoms and check for fevers," the jail said in a statement. "Anyone who is suspected of having the virus or tests positive is isolated from the general population.”