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Governor Raimondo “aware” that COVID-19 causes stress for the loved ones of inmates at ACI



“It is 10 times more stressful now because I have said you can’t visit and because there’s a high degree of anxiety in the prison system…”

“I’ve had a lot of questions about the ACI and I’ve been in touch with the folks at the ACI,” said Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo at her daily COVID-19 press conference on Thursday. Her comment were not made in response to any particular reporter’s question. “Let me take a second to address that community. Obviously, if you have a loved one who’s in prison, that’s a stressful time, all the time. If you’re in prison, it’s a stressful time. If your mom or your dad or your uncle or your best friend or your boyfriend is in prison, that’s stressful every day.

“It is 10 times more stressful now because I’ve said you can’t visit and because there’s a high degree of anxiety in the prison system, or any congregate care setting when you have a highly contagious virus. I want you to know I hear you, I’m aware of it. We are working very closely every day with the correctional officers, with the medical staff at the prison, [and] with advocates, to make sure we can do everything that we can do to keep you safe, to keep you healthy, [and] to make sure you are informed.

“I want you to know [that] we know it’s an especially difficult time. That messaging goes for people in other settings, [such as] group homes [or] the Harrington Hall homeless shelter. If you’re in a homeless shelter, life is really tough as it is. You add this on top of it, it’s unbearable. We haven’t forgotten about you. We hear you, and we’re doing the best we can. To the correctional officers, we hear you too. And I want to thank you for getting up every day and going to work. Thank you for your bravery. We’re going to continue to try harder to get more personal protective equipment and keep you and all of the inmates safe as we get through this.”

Dr Nicole Alexander-Scott, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) also spoke about the ACI:

“The governor spoke about the Adult Corrections Institutions, the ACI,” said Dr Alexandr-Scott. “I want to publicly recognize and thank the ACI leadership, Director Patricia Coyne-Fague as well as Dr Jennifer Clark, who is the medical director there, and a beloved colleague as well.

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“Dr Clark and her team at the ACI have been doing tremendous work to help keep people who are incarcerated there healthy and safe, as well as the same for the correctional officers and other critical staff who we appreciate and are working there as well. Dr Clark is almost daily in contact with our clinical team at the Rhode Island Department of Health, and we are enormously appreciative of her efforts, [those of] Director Coyne-Fague, and the entire staff, who are dedicated to doing the work that they’re doing at the ACI and across the Department of Corrections.”