U.S. prisons face worsening staff shortages amid COVID-19: news agency

Prisons in the United States have been facing more severe staff shortages as officers quit in droves amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Associate Press (AP) has recently reported.

“By failing to protect prisoners from COVID, the criminal justice system not only created an unfair risk of severe illness and death for the incarcerated, but the increased COVID risk to employees has undoubtedly contributed to staffing shortages,” University of Michigan economist Betsey Stevenson was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, for the officers left behind, worsening shortages have made an already difficult job unbearable, the AP reported.

Some prisons in state of Georgia reported up to 70 percent vacancy rates, while state of Florida has temporarily closed three prisons because of understaffing, it said.

Staff shortages have reportedly long been a challenge for U.S. prisons, given the low pay, poor benefits, and horrendous working conditions. But the increased risk of COVID-19 for people working there has further exacerbated the problem.

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