The third state case study in the WPF’s new research project tracking COVID 19 in places of detention is now available. In this newly published case study, we analyze the data and infection trends in Michigan. The primary researcher for this case study was Amaia T. Elorza Arregi.

Outbreak in Michigan

While Michigan has been one of the leading states in taking strict measures to combat the Covid-19 outbreak, such response has not reached its prison and jail populations. Compared to other states, Michigan is lagging in releasing people behind bars to mitigate the spread of the disease in detention facilities.

Spread

By mid-May, at least 2,389 people have tested positive for Covid-19 behind bars in Michigan. The Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) reported 2,235 cases, while 83 have tested positive in federal prisons, 69 in county jails and two in juvenile detention facilities across the state.

The largest outbreak has been taking place in state prisons. On March 22nd, MDOC had its first case among the imprisoned population, when someone from the Kinross Correctional Facility tested positive after being transferred to a nearby hospital. By May 12th, seven weeks later, 17 state prisons out of 31 reported 2,235 confirmed cases among the imprisoned population and 327 confirmed cases among staff.

Due to the lack of adequate prevention measures, protective equipment and the inability to physically distance, Covid-19 has spread faster among the imprisoned population than it has among the rest of the population, resulting in much higher infection and death rates inside prisons than outside.

Data sources: for general public infection rates, see https://www.michigan.gov/Coronavirus; for prison population rates, see Michigan Department of Corrections. Table: World Peace Foundation 2020.
Data sources: for general public infection rates, see https://www.michigan.gov/Coronavirus; for prison population rates, see Michigan Department of Corrections. Table: World Peace Foundation 2020.

Fatalities

By May 12th, 2020, 60 people died from Covid-19 behind bars in Michigan.

  • 55 have died in MDOC prisons – five in Charles E. Egeler Reception and Guidance Center, two in the Detroit Reentry Center, two in the Duane Waters Health Center, one in the G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility, two in the Gus Harrison Correctional Facility, 20 in the Lakeland Correctional Facility, five in the Macomb Correctional Facility, ten in the Parnall Correctional Facility, three in the Thumb Correctional Facility, four in the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility and one in the Woodland Center Correctional Facility.
  • 3 have died in the Milan FCI federal facility.
  • Jails and other detention centers are not consistently reporting on positive cases or deaths from Covid-19. We have gathered most available data from media reports and official sites.

On May 7th, Michigan ranked highest in the US for deaths of people from Covid-19 in prison, and third in terms of number of confirmed cases among the imprisoned population. Two prison staff members have also died from Covid-19.

The full Michigan state case study is available on the project webpage.

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