The Arizona State Prison Complex Yuma is one of the facilities with no confirmed cases of COVID-19, but corrections officers there are being asked to volunteer to work their days off at Florence/Eyman, which has 47 positive cases of the coronavirus among inmates and staff.

Those who are willing to do so receive overtime pay, paid travel time for the 200-mile trip, and a 25% pay raise as an incentive, said Clinton Roberts, who is the president of the Arizona Corrections Association, and a corrections officer at Lewis Prison.

Roberts explained that 10 positions need to be filled per shift, and that not enough officers are volunteering, which has led to a concern that the ADOC could issue a verbal mandate soon that would require they do.

While that hasn’t happened yet, Roberts said that it is sometimes necessary for the ADOC to send corrections officers to work at other facilities due to emergency issues in staffing, and that they know and understand that it is part of the job.

“It has always been that way. It is rare, but it does happen,” Roberts said. “The state prison system’s primary responsibility is to protect the public and not having facilities properly staffed is a liability.”

According to information from an online dashboard recently posted by the ADOC website, of the 41,386 inmates in the 10 state-run and eight private prisons, only 63 have tested positive for the coronavirus so far. There have also been five deaths but no determination has been made yet by the county medical examiner indicating whether they were directly or indirectly the result of COVID-19.

The dashboard includes a map of all of ADOC’s facilities, along with information regarding the number of tests that have occurred at each location. The data also shows that 47 employees have self-reported positive with the virus, with 24 recovering.

As for the Yuma prison complex, the dashboard data indicates that of the 4,893 inmates being held at the Yuma prison complex, seven have been tested so far, all of which have come back negative.

Roberts said it is difficult to determine just how many corrections officers and staff are actually infected because anyone who is showing symptoms is often sent home and may not ever be tested.

Although there were some concerns initially, the ADOC has established ongoing proactive measures to reduce the risk of the spread of (COVID-19) within its facilities, including separating inmates with flu-like symptoms from the rest of the prison population for monitoring and appropriate follow-up care .

“I think it is being addressed appropriately now,” Roberts said. “Medical has been responsive to anyone with symptoms whether they are positive or not.”

Spokesperson Bill Lamoreaux released a statement indicating that as part of ADOC’s ongoing COVID-19 management strategy, all employees entering any of its prisons continue to undergo required health checks at each facility. Employees are sent home immediately if they are experiencing COVID-19-like symptoms and are required to stay home if they are sick.

Furthermore, ADOC is also providing soap to inmates for cleaning housing areas and practicing good hygiene, and waiving a $4 medical co-payment for inmates with cold and flu symptoms.

Legal and non-legal visitation at all state prisons have been temporarily suspended and the ban remains in effect through May 13, at which time it will be re-evaluated. The existing department policies for phone calls and written letters remain in effect as well. During this period, CenturyLink will continue to provide inmates with two additional 15-minute phone calls per week, free of charge.

According to Lamoreaux, the department continues to implement its existing Communicable Disease and Infection Control protocols, which includes reminding staff and inmates about how they can reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19, by washing hands, sanitizing surfaces, covering coughs and sneezes, and requires employees to stay home if they are sick.

Initially the ADOC refused to let corrections officers bring face coverings into prison facilities, but changed that decision after Robert’s organization and others spoke out against that ruling, saying they should be provided N95 masks as part of their uniforms.

As a result, the department, citing evolving CDC guidelines, later recommended that essential staff wear non-medical (non-PPE) cloth face coverings to reduce the risk of spreading the virus and began distributing two fabric face coverings to all employees.

The face coverings were made by inmates at Perryville, Douglas, and Florence complexes through the Arizona Correctional Industries (ACI) garment program, which has been in operation for more than 30 years.

James Gilbert can be reached at jgilbert@yumasun.com or 539-6854. Find him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/YSJamesGilbert or on Twitter @YSJamesGilbert.

The Arizona State Prison Complex Yuma is one of the facilities with no confirmed cases of COVID-19, but corrections officers there are being asked to volunteer to work their days off at Florence/Eyman, which has 47 positive cases of the coronavirus among inmates and staff.

Those who are willing to do so receive overtime pay, paid travel time for the 200-mile trip, and a 25 percent pay raise as an incentive, says Clinton Roberts, who is the president of the Arizona Corrections Association, and a corrections officer at Lewis Prison.

Roberts explained that 10 positions need to be filled per shift, and that not enough officers are volunteering, which has led to a concern that the ADOC could issue a verbal mandate soon that would require they do.

While that hasn’t happened yet, Roberts said that it is sometimes necessary for the ADOC to send corrections officers to work at other facilities due to emergency issues in staffing, and that they know and understand that it is part of the job.

“It has always been that way. It is rare, but it does happen,” Roberts said. “The state prison system’s primary responsibility is to protect the public and not having facilities properly staffed is a liability.”

According to information from an online dashboard recently posted by the ADOC website, of the 41,386 inmates in the 10 state-run and eight private prisons, only 63 have tested positive for the coronavirus so far. There has also been five deaths but no determination has been made yet by the county medical examiner indicating whether they were directly or indirectly the result of COVID-19.

The dashboard includes a map of all of ADOC’s facilities, along with information regarding the number of tests that have occurred at each location. The data also shows that 47 employees have self-reported positive with the virus, with 24 recovering.

As for the Yuma prison complex, the dashboard data indicates that of the 4,893 inmates being held at the Yuma prison complex, seven have been tested so far, all of which have come back negative.

Roberts said it is difficult to determine just how many corrections officers and staff are actually infected because anyone who is showing symptoms is often sent home and may not ever be tested.

Although there were some concerns initially, the ADOC has established ongoing proactive measures to reduce the risk of the spread of (COVID-19) with the its facilities, including separating inmates with flu-like symptoms from the rest of the prison population for monitoring and appropriate follow-up care .

“I think it is being addressed appropriately now,” Roberts said. “Medical has been responsive to anyone with symptoms whether they are positive or not.”

Spokesperson Bill Lamoreaux released a statement indicating that as part of ADOC’s ongoing COVID-19 management strategy, all employees entering any of its prisons continue to undergo required health checks at each facility. Employees are sent home immediately if they are experiencing COVID-19-like symptoms and are required to stay home if they are sick.

Furthermore, ADOC is also providing soap to inmates for cleaning housing areas and practicing good hygiene, and waiving a $4 medical co-payment for inmates with cold and flu symptoms.

Legal and non-legal visitation at all state prisons have been temporarily suspended and the ban remains in effect through May 13, at which time it will be re-evaluated. The existing department policies for phone calls and written letters remain in effect as well. During this period, CenturyLink will continue to provide inmates with two additional 15-minute phone calls per week, free of charge.

According to Lamoreaux, the department continues to implement its existing Communicable Disease and Infection Control protocols, which includes reminding staff and inmates about how they can reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19, by washing hands, sanitizing surfaces, covering coughs and sneezes, and requires employees to stay home if they are sick.

Initially the ADOC refused to let corrections officers bring face coverings into prison facilities, but changed that decision after Robert’s organization and others spoke out against that ruling saying they should be provided N95 masks as part of their uniforms.

As a result, the department, citing evolving CDC guidelines, later recommended that essential staff wear non-medical (non-PPE) cloth face coverings to reduce the risk of spreading the virus and began distributing two fabric face coverings to all employees.

The face coverings were made by inmates at Perryville, Douglas, and Florence complexes through the Arizona Correctional Industries (ACI) garment program, which has been in operation for more than 30 years.

James Gilbert can be reached at jgilbert@yumasun.com or 539-6854. Find him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/YSJamesGilbert or on Twitter @YSJamesGilbert.

0
0
0
0
0

Recommended for you