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Metropolitan Correctional Middle Hit with Lawsuit Over Dealing with of COVID-19 Outbreaks

A few inmates at the Metropolitan Correctional Center recently decided to sue the facility for dealing with COVID-19.

Recently, a lawsuit was filed against the Metropolitan Correctional Center by a group of inmates who alleged the federal agency failed to protect detainees and staff from two major outbreaks. The lawsuit alleges that the prison’s measures were “arbitrary and inadequate”. For example, the proposed class action lawsuit states that there is a lack of “detergents and adequate social distancing measures, as well as a poorly implemented and incomplete isolation and quarantine process”.

An illustration of the novel coronavirus called Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which is responsible for COVID-19. Image from CDC via Unsplash.com.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Chicago, also said: “Officials turned a blind eye to unmasked employees and ignored some detainees who asked for tests.” Plaintiffs include inmates Ricky Price and Kevin Conway. In the lawsuit, they allege that the “Federal Bureau of Prisons and MCC officials failed to protect those in custody from the pandemic, not just once but twice.” Because of this alleged failure, “more than 200 inmates at the facility have tested positive for COVID-19,” according to the Bureau of Prisons website. However, the suit claims that the actual infection rate is likely higher.

On the matter, Camille Bennett, director of the prison reform project at the Illinois ACLU and attorney representing the inmates, said:

“It’s hard to define what MCC officials are doing as a strategy to fight COVID. You failed in the spring and didn’t learn a single lesson. There must be a specific, science-based plan to protect those detained in the MCC. “

In fact, the lawsuit alleges the facility “continued to operate as normal in many ways” even after two employees tested positive for COVID-19 in late March. For example, inmates continued to work “throughout the building, including the kitchen, even though they were not provided with masks and many employees did not wear masks or gloves”. As a rule, the facility “relied on residents to report their symptoms themselves”. “However, many were prevented from reporting their symptoms because they did not want to move to the safe housing unit, which is usually for disciplinary purposes,” the lawsuit said. According to plaintiffs, the units in the secure housing unit were small, dark and noisy.

To make matters worse, the suit argues that when inmates got sick they weren’t treated properly. This left the inmates “scared and depressed”. In addition, soaps are often limited, as are other essential detergents, and “laundry services are secured so some residents cannot wash their bedding for weeks,” the lawsuit said. Common areas such as showers and computer areas have not been properly cleaned after each use, claim the plaintiffs. In fact, “the disinfection of common surfaces and the cleaning is so bad that MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) broke out on one floor last summer.” The lawsuit continues:

“You have violated your responsibility under federal law, the constitution and your own regulations. It is now time to order them to protect the plaintiffs and the class. “

Currently, the lawsuit is urging the Federal Bureau of Prisons and MCC officials to develop a vaccination distribution plan that will educate residents and employees about the safety of the vaccines and begin giving the vaccines to inmates aged 55 and over. In addition, plaintiffs want officials at the facility to “design a better quarantine and isolation process, with all new residents being tested upon admission and placed in a separate and secure storage room.”

Sources:

Inmates file class action lawsuit for treatment of COVID-19 in downtown prison

COVID-19 outbreak among inmates at the MCC in Chicago among the largest in the entire system

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