The Study's Critical Points
Between March and August of 2020, the 10 largest COVID-19 outbreaks in the country were linked to correctional facilities, with the 7th largest occurring at Trousdale Turner Correctional Center in Hartsville, TN.
At Trousdale, 53% of inmates, or 1,299, tested positive for coronavirus.
At South Central Correctional Facility in Clifton, 81% of all inmates, or 1,144, tested positive for COVID-19.
After the first incarcerated person tested positive on March 23, 2020, Tennessee implemented mass COVID-19 testing for Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) staff and inmates in April.
As of December 14, 2021, there were 60 total deaths among TDOC prisoners, or 1 death out of every 360 prisoners.
Among the 50 states, Tennessee ranks 20th for the highest number of state prisoners infected with coronavirus per capita, with 7,290 total cases.
There was 1 known case per every 3 prisoners, which was 74% higher than Tennessee overall.
Among TDOC staff, 1,546 individuals have been infected, and five have died.
Incarceration-associated health disparities
Incarcerated individuals experience higher rates of chronic and mental health conditions than the general population, and time spent incarcerated is associated with a significant decline in overall health.
14.5% of men and 31% of women in jail have serious mental illness compared to 5% in the general population.
Suicide is the leading cause of death in jails and prisons, accounting for nearly half of deaths during incarceration from 2000-2016.
40% of jail deaths occur within the first week of incarceration.
67% of the prison population has substance use disorder, compared to 38% in the general population.
Only 15% of those who need treatment receive it while incarcerated.
Barriers to healthcare access for incarcerated individuals
In Tennessee, inmates are charged a $3.00 medical copay for physician visits, medication, and other health needs: these copays are paid by inmates who earn 17 cents an hour, meaning they would have to work for nearly 18 hours to afford a medical visit.
20% of state inmates, and 68% of local jail inmates did not receive a medical examination while incarcerated.
Read the full report here.
Above: A graphic depicting that only 15% of people received care in Tennessee prisons.