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The state government employees who process unemployment insurance claims and work in state prisons, juvenile services facilities, hospitals and universities say they lack the resources necessary to do their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic. 

 

The workers spoke Tuesday at a virtual meeting of the state House Appropriations and Senate Finance committees.

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Before Gov. Larry Hogan lifts the stay-at-home order and lets non-essential businesses reopen, he says the state must meet four goals:  more hospital beds, the ability to test more people for COVID-19, more protective gear for healthcare workers, and an expansive “contact tracing” program to track down people who may be infected. 

On Wednesday, Hogan said the state is well on its way toward meeting these goals. He said he plans to release his full recovery plan on Friday.

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Governor Larry Hogan issued an executive order Sunday that has the potential to free hundreds of inmates, as the number of cases of COVID-19 continues to grow in Maryland’s prisons.

The order directs Maryland’s Commissioner of Corrections to expedite the release of prisoners who are within three months of being paroled, who are over 60 and have a plan for home release and have not been convicted of a violent crime.

It would not apply, however, to those who have been convicted of sex offenses or those displaying symptoms of COVID-19.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

Maryland’s top judge ordered state courts on Tuesday to consider releasing potentially thousands of inmates in prisons and jails to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The move comes after a coalition of advocates spent weeks submitting legal filings and letters to elected officials. They warned that detention facilities need to reduce their populations to prevent a widespread outbreak because unlike in the outside world, inmates at Maryland’s prisons and jails can’t socially distance themselves.

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An inmate at the state-run Jessup Correctional Institution has died as a result of COVID-19, the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services confirmed Monday. 

 

The inmate, a man in his 60s with “serious underlying medical conditions” died Saturday after spending several weeks hospitalized. He was one of 93 people — including 18 inmates and 47 correctional officers — confirmed to have COVID-19 across the state prison system as of Sunday night. Jessup Correctional Institution alone has had 33 confirmed cases.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, which oversees state prisons and jails and parole and probation services, has confirmed that 17 people have tested positive for COVID-19, including three inmates and four correctional officers.

Advocates have warned that prisons, jails and other detention facilities are especially vulnerable to outbreaks of contagious illnesses. They are pushing for some inmates to be released early to prevent a widespread outbreak, which could strain an already overburdened healthcare system.

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Female inmates at the state prison in Jessup, Maryland — the state’s only women’s prison — say getting feminine hygiene products, like pads and tampons, while they’re incarcerated can be challenging, sometimes even impossible.

On the pilot episode of Life in the Balance, we meet Danny Miller, a man sentenced to thirty years in prison at the age of seventeen after a fight with a friend turned deadly. When he gets out early on parol, he struggles to find a job in a society that seems more determined than ever to keep him on the sidelines. Host Aaron Henkin listens to Danny's life story - along with a panel of experts on post-incarceration - and asks, how and why does a man find himself in this situation, and what can we do to help?

Rachel Baye

Maryland’s prison system is short several hundred correctional officers.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union called on the state to fix the problem at a news conference Thursday morning at the Dorsey Run Correctional Facility in Jessup. Union leaders say the shortage endangers correctional officers.