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New report reveals toll of COVID-19 in Texas prisons and jails

The report found that Texas has had significantly more staff deaths from COVID-19 than any other prison system


Texas has the largest overall number of infections and deaths in prison.


By Sarah Calams

AUSTIN, Texas — A report released Monday found that more Texas jail and prison inmates and staff members have been infected and killed by COVID-19 than any other state in the U.S.

The report, titled “COVID and Corrections: A profile of COVID deaths in custody in Texas,” comes from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin. In the report, it says at least 231 people, including both inmates and staff members, have died from COVID-19 in Texas jails and prisons. Furthermore, the report revealed nine inmates died from COVID-19 after being approved for parole but before they were released.

It also found that inmates and staff members tested positive at a rate 490% higher than the state’s general population. Federal prison and ICE facilities were excluded from the analysis.

“COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on prisons and jails across the country, and especially in Texas,” said Michele Deitch, the study’s lead author. “The data in this report fills a significant gap in our knowledge base, and shows the urgency of taking steps to reduce the risks of additional COVID deaths in Texas prisons and jails. The information here can be used as a starting place for discussion about potential policy solutions.”

For more details and findings, click here or read the report below.