Family asks for transparency in COVID-19 testing at jails and prisons

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LIVINGSTON, La (BRPROUD) – As the state sees the fourth wave of COVID-19, many families of inmates are worried about the safety of their loved ones.

Wives, sisters, cousins, mothers have spoken out saying they are looking for answers about their family’s health. They know that their loved ones are being tested for COVID, but, allegedly, not getting the results.

“It makes me worry; I mean I am afraid for him,” Darlene Morgan said.

Morgan’s cousin is in jail at the Livingston Parish Detention Center. Morgan said he was tested for COVID-19, but he tells her he never got his results.

“He’s been tested a few times and they are not giving anyone the results to the test,” Morgan said.

Kaitlyn Knecht, 24, said her husband was also tested for COVID-19. She said they both were left in the dark.

“They won’t give me any information,” Knecht said. “They say that they can’t give out their information other than their charges.”

The lack of information scares loved ones, and they want answers.

“I would want them to answer family members’ questions when we call. Like if they are sick, I want to make sure, are they getting their medicine or their treatment,” said Knecht.

Loyola Law Professor Andrea Armstrong said these facilities should do more to protect inmates and employees.

“If there is an outbreak of COVID or tuberculosis or even of the flu, this is something that a responsible medical director would share with the warden and the sheriff so that they can adjust their staffing housing and policies to mitigate the harm from that infection,” Armstrong said.

Armstrong said that transparency is key, and it would not require exposing personal information.

“School boards, parish by parish, have been publishing statistics. Not names, not private medical information, but publishing statistics about how many reports of positive that they’ve gotten, sometimes they will indicate grades, how many are quarantining at any given point and so,” Anderson said. “That same type of transparency that we see in our schools should also be applied to our jails and prisons.”

We reached out to the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office. They sent a response that reads:

6% of our Detention Center population has tested positive. Last time media checked, we were at 12%.

Proper quarantine & medical isolation guidelines are being followed for those who test positive.  We (LPSO & The Parish Medical staff) continue to work with the Louisiana Department of Health & the Louisiana Department of Public Safety & Corrections to follow safety protocols, quarantine procedures & testing of offenders.  We continue to be focused on reducing the potential impact of this virus within the LPDC.

For COVID questions we discussed, you can check in LPDC (Livingston Parish Detention Center) Parish Medical Director.  Let me know how I can help.  

Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office

They directed us to the Parish Medical Director for questions, but we have not heard back.

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