SEANC objects to DPS's plan to resume inmate transfers
May 27, 2020
The State Employees Association of North Carolina vehemently objects to the Department of Public Safety’s announcement today that it will resume transfers of inmates for the following reasons:
- Correctional staff members have not been properly tested yet. This will only expose them to even more inmates that they can infect, and be infected by. Moving inmates before staff test results are known makes the testing procedure outlined last week an exercise in futility.
- Restoring transfers will only spread the virus further. Those prisons that have yet to have an outbreak will surely have one soon.
- The virus can incubate for up to 14 days. An inmate can test negative on the day of transfer, but be infected and not know it.
- It’s wrong to say that the inmate population has been quarantined for two months. Inmates encounter officers each day – officers who go home to their families and into their communities. As we’ve seen at Neuse Correctional, the virus could be circulating in a prison without detection through asymptomatic carriers.
- Moving inmates will spread the virus throughout not only the prison system, but the communities where prisons are located. Many of our prisons are located in rural areas where the risk of introducing COVID-19 is especially acute. The local hospitals could be quickly overwhelmed by an outbreak caused by the movement of inmates.
- It’s disingenuous for the department to say 40 of the 31,500 inmates have COVID. DPS has only tested a fraction of that number. If all inmates were tested, the total number of cases would be significantly higher.
Statement from SEANC President Jimmy Davis:
“Though other facets of life may be opening up, we are in no way out of the danger zone in our prisons. Moving inmates now will lead directly to more outbreaks and unnecessary deaths in our inmate populations, among our staff and in the community at large. Now is not the time to return to normal in our crowded and short-staffed prison system.”