Inmates at New York Cityís Rikers Island jail. Bebeto Matthews/AP
As many as 100,000 more people could die in the US from the coronavirus if jail populations across the mass incarceration-addicted country are not dramatically and immediately reduced, a US study says.
The analysis, done by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and academic researchers, said US jails, which house men and women not yet convicted, will act as mass vectors of the outbreak.
It said of those 100,000 fatalities, 23,000 are projected to succumb behind bars and 76,000 in surrounding communities as a result of inmates spreading the coronavirus upon release.
"When it comes to Covid-19 deaths, mass incarceration is our achilles heel," said Udi Ofer, director of the ACLUís justice division.
Americaís addiction to mass incarceration is truly exceptional in the world as no other nation incarcerates people on such a scale, which in turn has critical implications for the threat posed by such a virus outbreak, the Guardian said.
The US accounts for 4% of the worldís population, but 21% of its incarcerated population.
Ofer said, "The two things the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] recommends for Americans to fight the virus - social distancing and personal hygiene - are both impossible in jails," as American Jails are overcrowded and sanitation is often rudimentary.
The ACLU study said inmates, who are burdened with underlying symptoms such as diabetes and asthma, are vulnerable to contracting the coronavirus (Covid-19) while incarcerated and can quickly carry it back to their communities.
The study is almost certainly an undercount as the researchers did not take into account either prisons or immigration detention centers across the US, the Guardian said.
According to the ACLU Just more than 1,800 prisoners at the Marion correctional institution in Ohio have tested positive for Covid-19 - 73% of the total prison number. In Cook county jail in Chicago, almost 400 inmates have also tested positive and six have died.
The advocacy group says the US mass incarceration has become a major health threat to all Americans, not just those locked up, calling for an immediate reduction of the jail populations to slow the spread of the virus which is claiming lives at record speed in the US.
US coronavirus deaths topped 47,000 on Wednesday after rising by a near-record single-day number the previous day, according to a Reuters tally.
SOURCE: PRESS TV