A federal prison in Seagoville has seen 1,072 positive cases of coronavirus — well over half of its nearly 1,800 inmate population, NBC DFW reported. No prison in the country has reported more infections.
Texas has continued to see its coronavirus response deteriorate, with the state recording around 15,000 new cases on Friday, with almost 320,000 total cases as of Saturday. The infection has continued to rapidly spread, and the problem of protecting prisoners has not been an easy one.
Early on, officials tried to address concerns over the safety of inmates, should the infection reach prisons. In some cases, prisoners attempted to appeal for early release or to commute their sentences to house arrests, but most efforts went nowhere.
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One inmate in Seagoville, James Giannetta, 65, died Thursday. He was taken to prison two days after experiencing difficulty breathing.
He was serving a 14-year sentence for drug and conspiracy to launder money.
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Families with loved ones in the prison had planned to protest outside the facility on Saturday as part of demonstrations across the nation, all to bring attention to the growing number of COVID-19 cases in prisons.
“My biggest fear is that COVID will get him,” Michelle Trevino, wife of a prisoner, told NBC. “There are people who qualify, who’ve done very well, who really want to turn their lives around.”
Prisoners have been complaining to loved ones about the conditions and treatment within the prisons, Trevino claimed.
“Honestly, I get it. I understand where they’re coming from,” Trevino said. “I know how it must look to say hey, just let them out! But that’s not what we’re saying at all, and I don’t think it’s pointless to be a voice for them because it’s that bad in there for them.”
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The Federal Bureau of Prisons said it has begun additional testing of asymptomatic inmates nationally to help slow the spread of the virus.
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