CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — The Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI) in Cranston is experiencing a significant spike in coronavirus cases, with 488 prisoners and 112 staff members testing positive last month, according to the Rhode Island Department of Corrections (DOC).
DOC Director Patricia Coyne-Fague said safety protocols have been implemented.
“On my watch I don’t want anyone to have a bad outcome, so we’re all working really hard to make sure that doesn’t happen,” she said.
The ACI has restricted foot traffic, while positive cases are medically isolated and testing for inmates has been increased to once a week.
Three inmates and one staff member are currently hospitalized, according to Coyne-Fague.
12 News law enforcement analyst Col. Steven O’Donnell worked in maximum security at the ACI in the early 1980s. He said even though there’s confinement, there are plenty of people coming and going who increase the chances for spread.
“They have to be fed, they have to be looked after,” O’Donnell said of the inmates. “There’s a whole bunch of things that kind of snowballs from some type of virus like this running through a prison.”
The R.I. Center for Justice Advocates for Prisoners’ staff attorney Natalia Friedlander said that ACI prisoners in minimum, medium and maximum security with good behavior should have days shaved off their sentence.
“The way to prevent the virus spread is by reducing the number of incarcerated individuals,” Friedlander said.
Coyne-Fague said she only has the power to release someone to home confinement, and that rules are extremely strict when it comes to eligible prisoners.
“Really the entity that can deal with effecting the release of inmates once their sentenced is the courts,” she explained.
The Department of Corrections said they don’t have a current active number of COVID-19 cases at the prison.
12 News reached out to the R.I. Department of Health about the number of cases at the ACI, but they were unavailable for comment.