Prisoners of fear and COVID-19

Inmates, family members and guards believe that the level of contagion within Michoacan prisons is more serious than what the prison authorities admit.

COVID-19. Morelia.- “I am sure that here we have more patients than the prison authorities say, I live here and I realize immediately who is sick, they are coughing and with a fever and cannot even move from the pain,” one of the inmates denounces.

Through his relatives, the prison inmate “David Franco Rodríguez” was able to send an audio in which he complained about the way in which the impact of the pandemic has been minimized in the prisons of the Penitentiary System of the State of Michoacán.

His loved ones seek that the authorities make known the real number of infections within Michoacan prisons and that measures be provided to support the inmates, since as long as they continue to be locked so close together, it will be impossible to stop the SARS virus- CoV-2.

“He tells me that he is fine, I see him worried, that’s why we want to see what happens in there, that they tell us the truth, we do not want a lie, we do not want them to make a fool of us,” said the woman, mother of an inmate in the state prison better known as Mil Cumbres.

The five testimonies that this medium managed to collect about the pandemic speak of at least 10 inmates who are isolated in the “David Franco Rodríguez” prison and another 6 in the High Security Social Reintegration Center for High Impact Crimes Number 1 of Morelia .

2020News was able to collect testimonies from inmates, relatives of incarcerated people and custodians that revealed a higher level of contagion than has been admitted. The testimonies also indicate that the inmates began to present symptoms from mid-August 2020.

However, this Thursday, September 3, 2020, the Government Secretariat of Michoacán formally reported at least three cases of COVID-19 patients in three different prisons: the first in the David Franco Rodríguez prison, the second in the High Impact prison and the third in the prison that is located in the town of Sahuayo.

“There are more cases, but obviously the government is going to try to minimize the problem, to prevent family members or human rights associations from intervening in favor of the inmates,” said an inmate, “if there are already three confirmed cases then sure there will be more ”.

The inmates of the Cereso de Alto Impacto prison pointed out that many of those with symptoms are only forced to stay in their cells, while those with serious symptoms are isolated in punishment cells, often without access to adequate medication.

“Many have symptoms but they do not say it out of fear, we see that they take our companions to a cell up there and leave them there, without medicine, without attention, like dogs, so they do not want to go around saying they have symptoms,” another inmate said.

The testimonies collected indicate that a series of atypical respiratory diseases attack dozens of inmates, causing uncertainty among those who are inside the prisons and those who are outside about the origin of these diseases.

“I think there are more sick people (than the authorities admit),” said a custodian interviewed by 2020News, “I who belong to the vulnerable population was not allowed to go home until they saw that I was already sick, If I had not been with symptoms, they (the authorities) would have left me there among the population ”.

As more people get sick inside these Michoacan prisons and the inmates become prisoners of fear and COVID-19, the authorities assured through a statement that they are working to solve the problem and avoid a massive contagion.

2020News formally requested an interview with the directors of the “David Franco Rodríguez” and Alto Impacto prisons, Rodrigo Meza Maldonado and Noé Galván Carrillo, to find out what the conditions of the patients with COVID-19 are so they could answer the complaints about a greater degree of contagion within the facilities but so far they have not responded.

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