Kentucky prisons have the third highest covid-19 death rate compared to death rates for the disease among the state's whole population, even after rates are adjusted for the sex, age, race and ethnicity of inmates, says a study from the National Commission on Covid-19 and Criminal Justice.
After adjusting for inmates' demographic characteristics, the prisons' covid-19 death rate was 13.8 times higher than the overall death rate for the disease in Kentucky.
Arkansas had the highest covid-19 death rates in prisons, both adjusted and unadjusted. New Mexico ranked second in the adjusted rate and Ohio ranked second in the unadjusted rate.
In coronavirus cases, Kentucky's prisons ranked eighth in the nation, with a case rate 7.9% higher than the state s a whole. The researchers were not able to make demographic adjustments in case figures due to a lack of available data. Kentucky reports demographics of cases, but many states do not.
State Corrections Commissioner Cookie Crews said in an email delivered by the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, “The Department of Corrections has taken, and will continue to take, aggressive steps to protect the safety and security of all staff and inmates incarcerated in Kentucky state prisons. All efforts made by DOC to date have been implemented in close collaboration with the Department for Public Health in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for correctional settings.”
The study calls state and federal prisons "covid-19 hotspots," with new cases of the virus increasing rapidly in July and August.
Kentucky Health News is an independent news service of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based in the School of Journalism and Media at the University of Kentucky, with support from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.