ELKTON, Ohio — A sixth inmate the Federal Correctional Institution in Elkton, Ohio’s only federal prison facility, has died from the coronavirus, according to Joseph Mayle, president of the Law Enforcement Officers Union.
The facility, located about 30 miles east of Canton, has reported three additional inmate deaths this week. The federal facility houses 2,421 inmates, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
On Thursday at 3:36 a.m., prison officials confirmed a sixth inmate died. To date, there are 33 corrections staff who tested positive for the virus, with 109 inmates in quarantine.
On Tuesday, there were 44 in quarantine and 49 in isolation, with 22 corrections staff testing positive for COVID-19. That number jumped on Wednesday to 85 in quarantine and 30 staff testing positive for COVID-19. The number of inmates in isolation dropped to 45 on Wednesday.
Since the first cases from community spread were reported, congregate living has been a concern among health officials because of the fear that the virus can spread easily in close quarters.
In effort to decrease the overcrowding of state prisons, Ohio dropped its overall prison population by 311 inmates last week because of the efforts from the local courts to reduce their jail populations and to hold only critical hearings.
Last week, under an overcrowding statute in Ohio law, the governor alerted the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee to overcrowding in the state’s prisons and advised them to release certain inmates who were already set for release in the next 90 days.
Gov. DeWine confirmed Wednesday during his briefing that he authorized the early release of 105 inmates in Ohio, with each inmate undergoing testing to determine if they have COVID-19 before release.
The state set forth criteria for those who were considered early release. DeWine said he eliminated anyone convicted of sex offenses, including homicide-related offenses; kidnapping; abduction; ethnic intimidation; making terrorist threats; and domestic violence.
On Wednesday, DeWine said he also authorized the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections to continue to use this criteria every day as more people qualify for release within the 90 days to identify other inmates who may qualify for release under the limited overcrowding statute.