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Bozelco Column: Emergency Prep Prisons Lack – Opinion – Pueblo Leader




Columns share the author’s personal viewpoint. *****

As fires threatened the Cove Creek State Jail in Oregon on September 10, guards evacuated it. When the women arrived at a new facility, clean clothes and mattresses were not waiting for them. Oregon Public Radio reported that, on the bus journey that lasted 8 and a half hours, they were forced to stain themselves and throw used tampons out of the window.

More than 700 inmates moved out of a federal prison in Beaumont, Texas in late August before Hurricane hit Laura. More was taken out of Tribune Parish, Louisiana, before Hurricane Sally hit the Gulf Coast.

These evacuations and relocations weren’t entirely disastrous but they came close. One study from the City University of New York Graduate Center says that the potential for prison violence during transportation may be due to a lack of firm plans for unexpected relocations of large groups. Coffee Creek employees worked according to the established earthquake plan although the chance of a major earthquake affecting Oregon is slim, according to experts.

The backup generator exploded during Hurricane Sandy while I was at York Correctional Facility in Connecticut. Because all the locks were electric, none of the cells were bolted. Still not sure which locked door was standing in my way, but a lot of checkered guards did. An unlockable prison scared them.

That’s why every prison and prison should have an emergency preparedness plan for every conceivable natural disaster and breakdown protocols, like a broken generator, on file with the governor’s office in the state in which they are located.

Only about 29% of facilities have a dedicated disaster management and plan, according to a 2013 student thesis on disaster practices in prisons – the only comprehensive document on this preparedness to exist.

The only person or agency interested in collecting this information is a candidate for a PhD in Law and Politics at Northeastern University. The FEMA does not have an information repository, nor does the Department of Justice. If Dr Melissa Savilones Souriet does not conduct this investigation, no one will know just how little the prisons are equipped.

Not only did Surit fill this information gap, it revealed that the people running these places don’t care enough to answer questions about it. When polls were sent to different rangers, the response rate was low.

Not having a plan can be fatal. More than 6,500 inmates were in Orleans Parish Prison during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and they were not evacuated until chest height in first-floor cells, according to Human Rights Watch. Nobody has ever collected records of the deaths of prisoners from that storm, but 517 prisoners have yet to be identified.

In 2018, Hurricane Florence struck South Carolina, and two detainees drowned while being transported from a closed psychiatric facility; Representatives who conveyed them ignored warnings to take another route, according to a federal lawsuit. The charges of premeditated murder are still pending.

We think the least dangerous prison is the sealed prison, but this is not always the case. It is essential for the safety of any prison to be able to release people without incident; Some situations make confinement a less safe option.

This became very evident during the COVID-19 pandemic, when prison density made transmission behind bars more likely and less likely to contain it. Thousands of prisoners have been released, mostly because there is no correctional unit with a specialized influenza care unit to isolate people with infectious diseases. While we called this response “early release” because it was selective, it was, in fact, a disclaimer.

But don’t assume an evacuation is an evacuation, and as long as people get out of it it’s a success. This is only partially true. Transporting inmates to a field in the event of an earthquake would be wise – most earthquake deaths are caused by fallen structures or debris. But this same field in fire would be disastrous; A fire can burn through the grass at 14 mph. This means a soccer field will burn down in less than 17 seconds. Even the routes to take on the journey matter, as evidenced by the deaths of the two women in South Carolina. Emptying a prison in a natural disaster is not the time to improvise.

What supports this utter neglect of disaster preparedness, of course, is the idea that prisoners’ lives are expendable; Being prepared is a guarantee of their lives. A good citizen who believes that the death of prisoners justifies abandoning the evacuation plan, forgets that the likelihood of an inmate’s death is less than the chance of his escape. A man escaped from a Texas prison on September 4 due to damage from Hurricane Laura – no one died. Prisoners emerged from a British Virgin Islands prison during Hurricane Irma in 2017, leaving 100 beds empty – but no body bags were placed.

In choosing between a dead prisoner or someone wandering the streets, megalomaniac and hopeless because he is the subject of intense pursuit, I say choose a contingency plan that was examined instead – before either of these two events happened.

A global pandemic occurs every century or so; I understand why the facility didn’t have a plan for COVID-19 on file. But hurricanes, and many of them, rotate annually and threaten life and property. Expect fires on the west coast every year; The combination of wind events and dry conditions practically guarantees them, because human idiocy – sex reveals parties with fireworks near dry brushes and people knocking minerals to create sparks – are very reliable.

Disasters are routine for prisons, inside and out. However, 71% of prisons and prisons have not formulated any disaster preparedness plan. That should end. No prison or prison should be allowed to function without one. Chandra Bozelko writes for the award-winning Prison Diaries blog. You can follow her on Twitter at ChandraBozelko and email her at [email protected]

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