“…we do not have cases at the ACI at this time,” said Dr Nicole Alexander Scott, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health.
Yesterday the Providence Journal reported that three inmates at the Rhode Island Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI) medium security were being tested for COVID-19. Today, Dr Nicole Alexander-Scott, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), updated that report to say there are no cases of COVID-19 at the ACI presently.
“Our interaction with the ACI is similar to how we conduct any evaluations at any time,” said Dr Alexander-Scott. “If there are concerns about illness, the ACI works very closely with us in addressing it, understanding and testing. We are working through that. Right now we do not have any cases at the ACI.”
What kind of procedures do correctional officers go through to get in and out of the ACI, asked UpriseRI.
“That’s something that we are working on with the ACI in terms of making sure that they have the infection control procedures and practices that would be recommended,” said Dr Alexander-Scott. “Whether it’s COVID-19 influenza, hepatitis, those are ones that we want to make sure that the correctional officers and the ACI, the medical director there, Jennifer Clark, is excellent. We work very closely with them to make sure that they have the information they need to protect the officers as well as the inmates.”
Reporter Steve Klamkin from WPRO attempted to clarify the situation at the ACI concerning possible cases of COVID-19, asking, “Have there been cases there that have been moved down to other hospital settings perhaps, at the ACI? We had heard too, that there were people there with the virus. Were they moved out?”
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“I’m not aware of any other changes,” replied Dr Alexander-Scott. “Our team works very closely with them to address what is the show. We have no reports of any positive cases.”
In related news, it was reported earlier today that Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins is considering releasing “prisoners who pose a low risk to the public and are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus” from prison. UpriseRI asked Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha if something similar is happening here in Rhode Island.
“We have engaged with law enforcement, the court, the public defender’s office and the department of corrections to address the impact of this health emergency on the prison population. We are certainly taking the current public health emergency into consideration when making bail and detention recommendations, along with other important public safety considerations,” said Kristy dosReis, spokesperson for the Rhode Island Attorney General’s office. “We anticipate that defense counsel may file motions to reduce bail in some cases and we will respond to those motions based upon the particular facts and circumstances of each individual case.”
On Tuesday UpriseRI published a report from an inmate at the ACI questioning the safety of inmates during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yesterday, the Providence Journal reported on a possible three cases of COVID-19 at the ACI.
“RIDOC’s main priority is the safety and security of our staff, those in our custody, and the community at large. We are coordinating with other state agencies to make sure we deploy a coordinated response,” replied JR Ventura, Chief of Information and Public Relations Officer at the Rhode Island Department of Corrections.
“RIDOC is screening all new commitments, and effective immediately, all vendors/contractors/program providers are restricted from entering the facilities for the next 14 days, with the exception of medical personnel, maintenance and construction vendors at our Medium Security Facility. Attorney and clergy visits will be restricted for the next 14 days as well. Our staff makes regular announcements throughout the day for everyone to wash their hands.
“We are equipped with negative-pressure rooms that will help our medical staff with the containment of communicable airborne contagions. Our agency is utilizing our safety protocols and taking this matter very seriously. We are doing everything we can to keep everyone safe. There is no higher priority for us.”