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Critics say state should have done more to prevent COVID spread in prisons

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July 13th, 2020 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – Some family members of people behind bars at the Fort Dodge Correctional Facility are disappointed the state didn’t do more to reduce prison populations before a coronavirus outbreak hit the facility. As of today (Monday), 119 incarcerated individuals there have tested positive. Savannah Moore’s boyfriend is housed at Fort Dodge and she wishes more people had been released, based on good behavior or medical conditions, to lessen the chances of an outbreak.

Moore says, “That’s why I think it’s so disappointing is that I feel like people could have been looking to other prisons where this has happened, to say, ‘Okay, this was an issue they have, let’s solve that so that it doesn’t happen here.’ And it’s hard for us to see that they were doing that.” Aundrea Nobelt, who also has a boyfriend at the Fort Dodge facility, recounted a story of a man who was ready to be released, except he had to finish one last life skills class.

“How is one class holding him back from early release,” Nobelt says, “to be home with his loved ones quarantine at home, not spread it?” The Iowa Department of Corrections has worked to grant early releases, but as of last Friday, state prisons were still eight-percent over capacity, on average.

(By Kate Payne, Iowa Public Radio)