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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 5:30 P.M. 01.22.2021

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

This reporting was undertaken in partnership with The Associated Press.

Cases

By Jan. 19, at least 355,957 people in prison had tested positive for the illness, a 3 percent increase from the week before.

New infections in prisons reached their highest peaks in mid-December. In the weeks since, the numbers have dropped, though new cases in some states remain high. California, Kentucky, Nevada and Pennsylvania each reported more than 1,000 new cases.

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

There have been at least 355,957 cases of coronavirus reported among prisoners.

277,441 prisoners have recovered.

State Total cases Per 10,000 prisoners New cases over time
Alabama 1,294 613
Alaska * 2,269 4,751
Arizona 8,778 2,072
Arkansas 10,877 6,215
California 45,486 3,867
Colorado 8,006 4,553
Connecticut * 3,547 2,886
Delaware * 1,899 3,766
Florida 17,734 1,891
Georgia 3,056 555
Hawaii * 1,871 3,869
Idaho 3,909 5,001
Illinois 9,973 2,700
Indiana 3,123 1,159
Iowa 4,332 5,077
Kansas 5,420 5,528
Kentucky 6,596 5,423
Louisiana 2,792 1,853
Maine 157 734
Maryland 3,625 1,784
Massachusetts 2,664 3,343
Michigan 23,748 6,221
Minnesota 3,831 4,303
Mississippi 1,448 820
Missouri 5,288 2,054
Montana 1,124 2,493
Nebraska 932 1,642
Nevada 3,720 3,004
New Hampshire 417 1,714
New Jersey 3,956 2,145
New Mexico 2,441 3,705
New York 4,502 1,052
North Carolina 8,360 2,440
North Dakota 614 4,042
Ohio 9,154 1,871
Oklahoma 6,939 2,780
Oregon 3,131 2,165
Pennsylvania 9,205 1,977
Rhode Island * 1,083 4,050
South Carolina 2,919 1,612
South Dakota 2,336 6,312
Tennessee 6,439 2,979
Texas 32,284 2,304
Utah 3,101 4,494
Vermont * 244 1,473
Virginia 8,107 2,780
Washington 5,670 3,284
West Virginia 1,397 2,347
Wisconsin 10,642 4,511
Wyoming 560 2,509
Federal 44,957 2,612
* 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 hotspot for the disease. Since then, at least 2,231 other prisoners have died of coronavirus-related causes. The week of Jan. 19, the number of deaths reported rose 4 percent in a week. The coronavirus has killed prisoners in most systems. Two states—Vermont and Wyoming—have yet to report the death of a prisoner attributed to COVID-19.

There have been at least 2,232 deaths from coronavirus reported among prisoners.

State Total deaths Per 10,000 prisoners New deaths over time
Alabama 57 27
Alaska * 5 10.5
Arizona 45 10.6
Arkansas 52 29.7
California 175 14.9
Colorado 25 14.2
Connecticut * 17 13.8
Delaware * 12 23.8
Florida 205 21.9
Georgia 88 16
Hawaii * 2 4.1
Idaho 6 7.7
Illinois 80 21.7
Indiana 49 18.2
Iowa 14 16.4
Kansas 13 13.3
Kentucky 39 32.1
Louisiana 33 21.9
Maine 1 4.7
Maryland 19 9.4
Massachusetts 19 23.8
Michigan 127 33.3
Minnesota 11 12.4
Mississippi 10 5.7
Missouri 42 16.3
Montana 6 13.3
Nebraska 6 10.6
Nevada 45 36.3
New Hampshire 2 8.2
New Jersey 52 28.2
New Mexico 26 39.5
New York 29 6.8
North Carolina 40 11.7
North Dakota 1 6.6
Ohio 131 26.8
Oklahoma 44 17.6
Oregon 33 22.8
Pennsylvania 90 19.3
Rhode Island * 2 7.5
South Carolina 37 20.4
South Dakota 6 16.2
Tennessee 38 17.6
Texas 177 12.6
Utah 15 21.7
Vermont * 0
Virginia 52 17.8
Washington 9 5.2
West Virginia 4 6.7
Wisconsin 25 10.6
Wyoming 0
Federal 216 12.6
* 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 coronavirus. 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 at risk in these facilities: correctional officers, nurses, chaplains, wardens and other workers. We know little about how 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, 12 states—Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia—released information on the number of their staff members tested for 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 94,138 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 162 deaths among staff.

There have been at least 94,138 cases of coronavirus reported among prison staff.

66,747 staff have recovered.

There have been at least 162 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. 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 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 pre-trial 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. Beginning the week of July 28, we updated all prisoner population numbers, reflecting the number of incarcerated adults in state or federal prisons. Prior to 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 time 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 coronavirus 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 had originally been included prior to July 28. Pennsylvania’s coronavirus data included testing and cases for those who had been released on parole. We removed these tests and cases for prisoners from the data prior to July 28. 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 reflect 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 prior to 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 don'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.