How Vermont Prisoners Stayed Safe During the Pandemic

Image Courtesy of Phoebe Sheehan/VT Digger

Image Courtesy of Phoebe Sheehan/VT Digger

Georgia Rolle, Staff Writer

Over the course of the pandemic, COVID-19 cases have been high in numerous prisons around the country due to how crowding. The New York Times reported that every 34 prisoners out of 100 have tested positive for COVID-19 and about 2,700 have died over the past year. Unlike most states, prisons in Vermont have pushed for more precautions that have slowed the spread in their prisons, and not a single inmate has died from COVID-19 in this state yet.

These extensive precautions have kept COVID cases down for the prisoners but staying isolated for long periods of time has taken a mental health toll on many inmates. Dr. Haney told the New York Times that “prisoners who are required to isolate don’t have access to all of the goods and services and distractions that the rest of the free world have access to. They have only the emptiness of their cell.” Not having any social interaction with anybody for about 20-23 hours a day can make anybody’s mental health fall into pieces. These prisons are trying to find ways to keep people in incarceration like giving them books, puzzles, and phone calls to family members, so they do not deteriorate mentally.

Other states are considering following the provisions that Vermont has put into place for their prisons. One thing that needs to be enforced more is more testing for the inmates because Vermont is testing inmates more than six times a year and other states only testing inmates when they are ill. Also, Vermont has house correctional officers to stop the spread of the virus from their families and put some social distancing measures in the jails. Staying on top of the measures during this time is crucial, so the virus can stay out of the prisons for a long time.

To read more about the Vermont Prisons: