COVID-19: Jailed & Jailer, Unlikely Allies

On Saturday March 28, the Federal Bureau of Prisons reported the first known death of an incarcerated person from COVID-19.

Mr. Patrick Jones, 49 years old, was serving a 27-year sentence for possession of crack cocaine when he died in a local hospital near the Federal Correctional Institution in Oakdale, Louisiana, 9 days after complaining of a persistent cough. Within days of Mr. Jones’ death, 60 residents were in quarantine.

A day earlier, the New York Daily News had reported that Corrections Officer Quincey Simpson, an 18-year veteran of the New York City Department of Corrections, had died of the same disease.

By the end of March, 137 staff at Mr. Simpson’s place of work on Rikers Island had tested positive and COVID-19 cases among people who live and work in U.S. jails or prisons were being confirmed in at least 17 states.