A second inmate has died from COVID-19 at the Adult Correctional Institution (ACI), according to a statement from the RI Department of Corrections (DoC) on the afternoon of Friday, December 25. Motif previously reported the first inmate death on Saturday, December 19, and the first staff death on Monday, December 14.
“The inmate requested ‘Comfort Measures Only’ and that no extraordinary measures be taken to keep him alive. He was 79 years old,” the DoC said. “The inmate had other serious complicating health conditions that contributed to his death. He was being treated at Rhode Island Hospital for complications of COVID-19. The inmate was housed in the Medium Security facility of the ACI, where he was serving a life sentence for murder, and a concurrent expired sentence for manslaughter. The inmate’s family has been notified.” As is customary for DoC, the name of the deceased was withheld, citing “medical privacy laws.”
RI Department of Corrections COVID-19 counts as of Dec 17, 2020.
(Source: RI DoC)
Although DoC usually releases an update every Friday via their official Facebook page of the number of cases and deaths as of the prior day, it appears to be delayed this week due to the holiday. The most recent weekly report published by DoC as of December 17 listed 1,098 total COVID-19 cases, of which 808 are among incarcerated persons and 290 among staff.
The RI Decarcerate NOW Coalition – https://www.facebook.com/RI-COVID-Response-Decarcerate-NOW-102918301434589 – an umbrella organization that includes Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE), Black and Pink Providence, Formerly Incarcerated Union of Rhode Island, AMOR RI – Alianza para Movilizar Nuestra Resistencia, and other community members has been vocally critical for months about conditions at the ACI. The group recently held a protest rally outside the weekly press conference by Gov. Gina Raimondo on Tuesday, December 22, without incident.
Code Black RI, “a coalition of medical professionals, healthcare workers and trainees taking a stand against racism and racist systems,” held a protest rally in front of the governor’s residence on Wednesday, December 23, resulting in at least five arrests, that was broadcast via Facebook Live by UpriseRI. The group published a statement that evening on UpriseRI, saying “Mass incarceration is a threat to health equity and a public health crisis. As of December 17, greater than 90% of the inmates in Maximum Security tested positive for COVID. Cases are rising at the surrounding facilities. None of these outcomes are due to happenstance. Since March, the Decarcerate NOW Coalition and many others have called for the state to halt arrests; release as many incarcerated people as possible on parole and into community confinement – centering elderly and medically vulnerable people; and provide adequate PPE and universal testing to incarcerated people. These measures were not taken, or taken in half-measure.”
DoC Director Patricia A. Coyne-Fague said in today’s announcement of the second inmate death, “Any loss of life is very painful for friends and families, especially around the holidays, and we are keeping all who have lost relatives and loved ones in our thoughts during this difficult time. We are doing everything we can to keep people as safe as possible – no one wants to see more people die as a result of this virus that has claimed already too many lives in our state, and the rest of the world.”
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