Some localities are now threatening jail time for people who do not wear masks under the unproven science of stopping the spread of SARS-CoV-2. The contorted irony is that this same virus is being used as a pretext to release criminals from jails and prisons to stop an epidemic in confined areas. Well, it turns out there is a lower death rate from COVID-19 in jails than in the general population. Consequently, the coronavirus bloodbath in jails and prisons has not materialized, but the spike in crime from prisoners’ release certainly has.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, my friend Sean Kennedy, a visiting fellow at the Maryland Public Policy Institute, revealed a shocking fact. The assumption until now has been that prisons are breeding grounds to pass around intense concentrations of the virus, therefore resulting in more deaths. That turned out not to be true.
“In fact, there has been no wave of mass deaths among prisoners,” wrote Kennedy. “By mid-July, there were approximately 700 recorded deaths due to coronavirus among the 2.2 million prison and jail inmates in the U.S. That’s a mortality rate of roughly 32 deaths per 100,000 prisoners. In the nation as a whole, there were approximately 140,000 Covid-19 fatalities by mid-July. That’s a mortality rate of 42 per 100,000, including inmates. And prisoners who do contract the disease are dying at significantly lower rates (1% mortality) than the overall population (3.8%).”
The ACLU has warned that “detention centers would be petri dishes for the spread of COVID-19 — and a death trap for thousands of people in civil detention.” But in reality, they indeed were good petri dishes to study what would happen if the virus actually spread to a fully confined population. And it turns out it’s not the death trap the ACLU envisioned – not any worse than it is in the general population. Yes, the virus spreads far and wide in confined spaces, but as we’ve seen from the natural epidemiological case study of prisons, most people are asymptomatic and very few required hospitalizations.
It’s also important to note that prisons and jails are disproportionately filled with black inmates. Putting aside the criminal justice debate over how much this reflects crime rates, from an epidemiological standpoint, one would expect prisons to have a much higher death rate, if the virus is really as ubiquitously deadly as so many in the media are claiming. According to the CDC, black people are five times more likely to be hospitalized from COVID-19 than white people.
We’ve seen a similar dynamic with meatpacking plants, where the virus has spread far and wide, but the death rate is not any higher than in the general population, even considering the potential for greater viral load and the at-risk demographic of workers.
A similar observation can be made about ICE detention facilities. Just three individuals have died from the virus in the detention facilities, through which tens of thousands of detainees have passed since March. According to a source at ICE, who must remain anonymous because he is not authorized to speak to the media, all three individuals had uncontrolled diabetes (one is profiled here by CBS and another here by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution), which follows the same pattern we see in the general population. Nonetheless, the ACLU continues to push for more releases of criminal aliens from ICE detention.
The fact that the death rate is still this low demonstrates that prisons are not death traps and completely destroys the argument for releasing criminals. As business owners in New Jersey get arrested for the crime of exercising rights declared in our nation’s founding documents, nearly 100,000 criminals have been released from jail and prison, with many more in the pipeline.
Crime has skyrocketed in many major cities, and a number of these individuals have been arrested and released numerous times. Released criminals have now been charged with murder, including one who is accused of murdering an 11-year-old boy at a July 4 community BBQ in D.C. Yes, the riots and cascading effect of police retreating from the front lines is the direct cause of the spike in crime, but this degree of crime is committed most often by career criminals. Now there are another 100,000 of them out on the streets.
And Oakland Councilmember Noel Gallo says he sees a direct link between a rise in shootings in East Oakland and the state of California releasing inmates from jail due to COVID-19.
“We’re getting people released from prison coming to Oakland. They don’t have a job. No place to live,” observed Oakland Councilmember Noel Gallo. As KRON reports, Oakland is experiencing a 34 percent increase in gun violence this year.
California has released nearly 17,000 prisoners and plans to release another 8,000 by the end of the month.
What’s worse than the jailbreak is the policy in California and many other states of releasing new criminals without bail – no matter how many times they commit the crime and regardless of their prior record of more serious crimes. One California man has been arrested and released 13 times for car theft since being sprung from jail under coronavirus jailbreak in March. A man in Cincinnati was released because they believed he was being held on a “low-level” crime, but he previously served 10 years for rape.
Also, are we even tracking those who are released, and who says they will ever be returned to prison once this is over? Indeed, the jailbreak of criminals under the guise of stopping the spread will likely continue as long as the mask mandates – indefinitely. The Washington Times reports that in Cook County, the local prosecutors and public defenders won’t even release the names of those who have been set free, leaving police and sheriff’s departments in the dark.
Meanwhile, Chicago is experiencing one of the highest murder rates for any month dating back 60 years. It’s not only coming from the de facto sidelining of police, but from the de facto abolishing of incarceration.
Fear not, however, it’s all about following the science, we are told. This virus is so deadly that we must threaten you with jail time for not wearing a mask … while releasing rapists and child sex offenders from jail. In reality, in many neighborhoods you are more likely to die at the hands of violent criminals being released with coronavirus as the excuse rather than from the virus itself.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.