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A State-by-State Look at Coronavirus in Prisons

The Marshall Project is collecting data on COVID-19 infections in state and federal prisons. See how the virus has affected correctional facilities where you live.

Coronavirus Updated 5:05 P.M. 02.26.2021

Since March, The Marshall Project has been tracking how many people are being sickened and killed by COVID-19 in prisons across the country and within each state. Here, we will regularly update the numbers of people infected and killed both nationwide and within each prison system until the crisis abates.

This reporting was undertaken in partnership with The Associated Press.

Cases

By Feb. 23, at least 383,754 people in prison had tested positive for the illness, about a 1 percent increase from the week before.

New infections in prisons have dropped in recent weeks, from their highest peaks in mid-December to numbers not seen since October.

Reported cases first peaked in late April, when states such as Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee began mass testing of prisoners. Those initiatives suggested that the coronavirus had been circulating among people without symptoms in much greater numbers than previously known.

There have been at least 383,754 cases of coronavirus reported among prisoners.

307,363 prisoners have recovered.

State Total cases Per 10,000 prisoners New cases over time
Alabama 1,506 713
Alaska * 2,316 4,849
Arizona 11,932 2,817
Arkansas 11,033 6,304
California 49,036 4,168
Colorado 8,626 4,905
Connecticut * 3,932 3,199
Delaware * 1,899 3,766
Florida 17,876 1,906
Georgia 3,546 645
Hawaii * 1,905 3,939
Idaho 4,085 5,226
Illinois 10,651 2,884
Indiana 3,435 1,275
Iowa 4,605 5,397
Kansas 6,085 6,207
Kentucky 6,943 5,709
Louisiana 3,106 2,062
Maine 157 734
Maryland 4,128 2,032
Massachusetts 2,992 3,755
Michigan 25,190 6,598
Minnesota 3,885 4,363
Mississippi 1,392 788
Missouri 5,517 2,143
Montana 1,129 2,504
Nebraska 967 1,720
Nevada 4,698 3,794
New Hampshire 448 1,841
New Jersey 4,345 2,356
New Mexico 2,661 4,039
New York 5,815 1,359
North Carolina 9,512 2,777
North Dakota 623 4,101
Ohio 9,485 1,939
Oklahoma 7,114 2,851
Oregon 3,527 2,439
Pennsylvania 9,520 2,045
Rhode Island * 1,150 4,301
South Carolina 3,082 1,702
South Dakota 2,337 6,315
Tennessee 6,580 3,044
Texas 33,980 2,425
Utah 3,306 4,791
Vermont * 275 1,661
Virginia 8,987 3,082
Washington 6,157 3,567
West Virginia 1,553 2,609
Wisconsin 10,839 4,595
Wyoming 742 3,324
Federal 49,144 2,856
* An asterisk denotes state counts that include both pre-trial detainees and sentenced prisoners under a unified system of jails and prisons.

Source: The Marshall Project and Associated Press weekly data collection from state and federal prison agencies. Download our data.
Deaths

The first known COVID-19 death of a prisoner was in Georgia when Anthony Cheek died on March 26. Cheek, who was 49 years old, had been held in Lee State Prison near Albany, a hot spot for the disease. Since then, at least 2,445 other prisoners have died of coronavirus-related causes. The week of Feb. 23, the number of deaths reported rose 1 percent from the previous week. COVID-19 has killed prisoners in most systems. Only one state—Vermont—has yet to report the death of a prisoner attributed to COVID-19.

There have been at least 2,446 deaths from coronavirus reported among prisoners.

State Total deaths Per 10,000 prisoners New deaths over time
Alabama 61 29
Alaska * 5 10
Arizona 53 13
Arkansas 52 30
California 210 18
Colorado 29 16
Connecticut * 19 15
Delaware * 13 26
Florida 208 22
Georgia 89 16
Hawaii * 9 19
Idaho 6 8
Illinois 87 24
Indiana 51 19
Iowa 19 22
Kansas 14 14
Kentucky 44 36
Louisiana 36 24
Maine 1 5
Maryland 22 11
Massachusetts 20 25
Michigan 138 36
Minnesota 11 12
Mississippi 23 13
Missouri 45 17
Montana 6 13
Nebraska 6 11
Nevada 53 43
New Hampshire 2 8
New Jersey 53 29
New Mexico 28 43
New York 33 8
North Carolina 47 14
North Dakota 1 7
Ohio 134 27
Oklahoma 48 19
Oregon 42 29
Pennsylvania 97 21
Rhode Island * 2 7
South Carolina 37 20
South Dakota 7 19
Tennessee 42 19
Texas 187 13
Utah 15 22
Vermont * 0
Virginia 55 19
Washington 14 8
West Virginia 8 13
Wisconsin 25 11
Wyoming 3 13
Federal 236 14
* An asterisk denotes state counts that include both pre-trial detainees and sentenced prisoners under a unified system of jails and prisons.

Source: The Marshall Project and Associated Press weekly data collection from state and federal prison agencies. Download our data.
What's happening in your state

Given the huge differences in how many people are being tested in prisons for the virus, the effects of the pandemic have varied widely between different state prison systems. The first reported cases began popping up in Massachusetts and Georgia on March 20. In August, Hawaii, the last system whose prisoners had not gotten sick, reported its first confirmed cases of COVID-19. Here, you can choose to view the data for any state prison system and see how the numbers compare. For a summary of the number of cases in facilities run by the federal Bureau of Prisons, choose the “Federal” option.

Known cases prisoners has tested positive
Current case data not available
Deaths prisoners has died
Current death data not available
Tests tests were administered in the past week
Current test data not available

Testing data represents the number of tests administered, not the number of individuals who have been tested. Some states do not report tests until results have returned, which may create a delay in test counts.

Sources: The Marshall Project and Associated Press weekly data collection from state and federal prison agencies, The COVID Tracking Project. Download our data.
Prison staff

While we know more about how prisoners are getting sick, another group of people is also at risk in these facilities: correctional officers, nurses, chaplains, wardens and other workers. We know little about how the coronavirus is affecting them, though they have the potential to carry it both into facilities and back out to their communities. It’s difficult to assess how prison workers are being affected because many aren’t being systematically tested.

In the most recent week, 13 states—Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia—released information on the number of their staff members tested for the coronavirus. Where we do know about positive cases, most state corrections departments stress that the count includes only the employees who voluntarily report a diagnosis, often in the course of calling out sick.

Since the start of the pandemic, more than 104,278 prison staff members have tested positive—with new cases at an all-time high the week of Dec. 22. Testing information for staff remains spotty in most states. Prisons have publicly reported 189 deaths among staff.

There have been at least 104,278 cases of coronavirus reported among prison staff.

77,597 staff have recovered.

There have been at least 189 deaths from coronavirus reported among prison staff.

The staff members in your state

We know very little about how many staff are tested, and in many states, it’s not clear how many people are working in prisons right now. What we do know is that in several states, prison employees began to get sick before the people they oversee did. Using this tool, you can view the data for any state’s prison system and see how the numbers compare. For a summary of the number of cases in facilities administered by the federal Bureau of Prisons, choose the “Federal” option.

Known cases per 10,000 staff
Current case data not available
Deaths per 10,000 staff
Current death data not available
Sources: The Marshall Project and Associated Press weekly data collection from state and federal prison agencies, The COVID Tracking Project. Download our data.

The Marshall Project will continue to track and publish data on the coronavirus in our prison systems. If you have updates to the data to share or other comments, please contact us at info+covidtracker@themarshallproject.org.

We are publishing the raw data we have collected at data.world, in partnership with The Associated Press, and on GitHub. You can download the data to examine for yourself or to use in your research. If you do use our data, please let us know.

Methodology

Since March 26, reporters from The Marshall Project and The Associated Press have been collecting data on COVID-19 tests administered to people incarcerated in all state and federal prisons, as well as the staff in those facilities. We request this data every week from state departments of corrections and the federal Bureau of Prisons; however, not all departments provide data for the date requested. These numbers have been grouped by the week the data was collected.

For six states with unified prison and jail systems—Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Vermont—we count testing and case numbers from both detainees awaiting trial and sentenced prisoners. Similarly, in Maryland, several pretrial facilities in Baltimore City are included in the figures.

To estimate the rate of infection among prisoners, we collected population data for each prison system before the pandemic, roughly in mid-March, and in April and June and each month since then. Beginning the week of July 28, we updated all prisoner population numbers, reflecting the number of incarcerated adults in state or federal prisons. Before that, population figures may have included additional populations, such as prisoners housed in other facilities, which were not captured in our COVID-19 data. In states with unified prison and jail systems, we include both detainees awaiting trial and sentenced prisoners.

We calculate the rates of infection and death to allow for the easiest comparison across prison systems. Because population snapshots do not account for movement in and out of prisons since March, and because many systems have significantly slowed the number of new people being sent to prison, it’s difficult to estimate the total number of people who have been held since March. To be conservative, we calculate our rates of infection using the largest prisoner population snapshots we had during this period.

The overall U.S. rate of infection was calculated using case counts from The COVID Tracking Project and population data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Corrections departments in Indiana, Kansas, Montana, North Dakota and Wisconsin report COVID-19 testing and case data for juvenile facilities; West Virginia reports figures for juvenile facilities and jails. For consistency of comparison with other state prison systems, we removed those facilities from our data that were included before July 28. Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 data included testing and cases for those who had been released on parole. We removed these tests and cases for prisoners before July 28 from the data. The staff cases remain. Until early November, West Virginia’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation did not disaggregate its staff numbers by type of facility. After they began providing itemized numbers on staff cases on Nov. 3, we only included staff numbers from prisons and work release sites. We have gone back to past weeks and estimated the staff breakdown based on the total number of staff in each sector.

In Delaware, the number of prisoner deaths reported for Oct. 27 was incorrect and should have been 11, not 17. It has been updated here.

Early weeks of data for Vermont included multiple tests of the same prisoner. Starting on May 13, the data now accurately reflects the number of individual prisoners tested in Vermont.

In Texas, updates to the data overcounted the number of employee tests for the weeks of May 13, May 20 and May 27 after the state redesigned its website and how it classified tests for employees. These figures have been amended.

In Georgia, the prisoner cases and recoveries inadvertently counted some cases in private prisons and county facilities twice, for most weeks before Sept. 15. These figures have been corrected throughout the data.

Beginning the week of June 2, we moved our data collection up by one day. Data for that week represents a six-day count of cases between May 28 and June 2.

For the week of July 14, Michigan undertook an audit of cases and found duplicates that needed to be removed from its unique numbers. As a result, the number of cases dropped by 5 percent from the previous week. To estimate case counts for previous weeks, we have adjusted the original figures by that percentage. As an additional result of the audit, the prisoner test numbers fell by 717.

Starting with the week of July 21, South Carolina’s Department of Corrections began to report cases—but not testing counts—for prisoners held in “other locations,” such as county jails and hospitals.

The number of staff deaths in Maine for the week of July 21 was wrong. It should have been 0 and has been corrected.

In the week of Aug. 4, the Federal Bureau of Prisons began to report four deaths of people who had been released to home confinement, under the supervision of halfway houses. Their testing and case totals, however, do not include people on home confinement, and testing figures do not include private prisons.

In mid-August, Pennsylvania began reporting cases for prisoners and staff in community correction facilities. We have included these cases starting with numbers as of Aug. 18, and have updated inmate population figures to add individuals held in community corrections facilities. The number of individuals recovered among both staff and prisoners doesn't count individuals in community corrections facilities.

The total number of prisoner cases we reported dropped between Aug. 27 and Aug. 28, when we incorporated a data update from New Jersey that removed about 4 percent of cases in earlier weeks. New Jersey updated its prisoner case totals to remove cases where a prisoner tested negative for COVID-19 after initially testing positive. To estimate case counts for previous weeks, we have adjusted the original figures by that percentage.

The number of staff cases we initially reported for Sept. 22 and Sept. 29 in Massachusetts incorrectly counted 100 additional cases in the state. Thus, this also showed too many staff cases nationally. We have updated the figures and charts with the accurate total for both of those weeks.

Reporting by Katie Park and Tom Meagher

Graphics by Gabe Isman and Katie Park

Additional reporting by Cary Aspinwall, Keri Blakinger, Jake Bleiberg, Andrew R. Calderón, Maurice Chammah, Andrew DeMillo, Eli Hager, Jamiles Lartey, Claudia Lauer, Nicole Lewis, Weihua Li, Humera Lodhi, Colleen Long, Joseph Neff, Michelle Pitcher, Alysia Santo, Beth Schwartzapfel, Damini Sharma, Colleen Slevin, Christie Thompson, Abbie VanSickle, Adria Watson, Andrew Welsh-Huggins.