COVID-19 has turned Oklahoma’s prisons into human petri dishes. Seven inmates and three staff members have died of possible coronavirus-related causes. More than 2,600 inmates have tested positive, including more than 700 women at Eddie Warrior Correctional Center alone in Taft, Oklahoma.
Criminal justice reform advocates, including former House Speaker Kris Steele, and House Democratic Leader Emily Virgin have implored Gov. Kevin Stitt and state Corrections leaders to do more to protect inmates and staff. The response? Crickets.
For this week’s Observercast – Episode 36: “Putting Human Beings In Front Of Them” – Poetic Justice’s Ellen Stackable takes us behind the walls of Oklahoma prisons for an unvarnished look into the havoc being wrought by the pandemic and the challenges facing inmates – particularly the women of Eddie Warrior – as they struggle to stay safe and healthy, rebuild broken lives and work toward successful futures.
UPDATE 9.22.20: State officials today announced mandatory testing for Oklahoma Department of Corrections staff after possible coronavirus-related deaths climbed to 12 – nine inmates and three staff members.