Senator Michael Testa called on the New Jersey Department of Corrections (NJDOC) to stop transferring inmates from “hot zones” of infection in North Jersey to prisons in South Jersey to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within the confines of our correctional facilities.
“The NJDOC hasn’t locked down inmate transfers enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19 from prison to prison,” said Testa (R-1). “We heard of a prisoner who was transferred several days ago from a ‘hot zone’ in North Jersey to South Woods State Prison. The prisoner was symptomatic upon arrival at South Woods, brought to a hospital, and tested positive for the coronavirus. It’s increasingly clear that inmate transfers at this time within the New Jersey prison system is creating unnecessary risk for other inmates and the Corrections Officers who watch over them.”
The NJDOC had previously indicated that it would restrict the transfer of patients exhibiting symptoms of the coronavirus.
Testa said the protocols employed by the NJDOC do not appear to be working, thus exposing Corrections Officers, their families, and our communities to unnecessary risk.
“Either the NJDOC isn’t following the protocols it says it established to stop COVID-19 from being spread with our prison system, or those protocols do not work,” added Testa. “That’s the view of a number of Corrections Officers that I’ve spoken with who are seriously concerned that current inmate transfer policies create an unnecessary risk to their personal safety, their families, and our communities. I’ve shared those concerns with the NJDOC commissioner and staff in the Governor’s Office, only to be told they would ‘look into it.’ Our Corrections Officers and the families they go home to deserve more consideration than that.”