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John Oliver Asks Why We Don't Care About COVID-19's Spread Through Prisons

“On balance, the risks of carefully letting people out are vastly outweighed by the risks of leaving everyone inside,” he said.

In a lengthy dissection of the effect of coronavirus on prison populations, John Oliver pointed out that not everyone in a prison is actually in prison. Workers have reported at least 9,180 cases. In addition, inmates spread the virus when they transferred to another prison or are treated at local hospitals. Via

In addition, 200,000 people are booked across the country and another 200,000 walk out every week. This can make it spread easily throughout the community. One study found, as of mid-April, 15.7% of all documented coronavirus cases in Illinois were linked to the Cook County Jail.

Oliver said, “The fewer people in these facilities, the easier it is for them to social distance, the fewer the staff, and the lower demand for PPE.” Of course, many will dispute this. He cuts to a clip of Texas State Senator Paul Bettencourt who basically said he doesn’t want the safety of people being jeopardized with “burglars and thieves” on the loose. Oliver suggests releasing those who are little risk to public safety and those who can’t post bail.

“On balance, the risks of carefully letting people out are vastly outweighed by the risks of leaving everyone inside,” he said, adding that inmates, particularly the immunocompromised and the elderly, who have served their sentences should be released, put on furlough or even on house arrest.

“We should be depopulating prisons and jails as quickly as we can right now,” he declared. “In our current system — you’re never just being sentenced to time. You’re being sentenced to a lifetime of social stigma, futile job interviews and roadblocks to necessities like housing. All of that is immoral enough. There is frankly no reason whatsoever we should also be sentencing people to die from a virus cause tha’ts not justice, it’s neglect.”

He continued to say that incarcerated people are not separate from our population and are still members of our society. “If this horrific year has taught us one thing is that we are all on this death cruise ship together,” he concluded.

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