Arizona Interfaith Calls on Dept. of Corrections to Mitigate Spread of COVID-19 in Prisons


A late-July spike in Pima County COVID-19 cases shown on the Arizona Department of Health COVID-19 webpage shows ... 642 cases, the highest number of cases by far that month.

On July 2, Barbara Hudson died in the San Carlos Unit in Perryville Women’s Prison in Goodyear. Before her death, she sought medical care for shortness of breath and chest pain, said Kim Crecca, convenor of the Diocesan Prison Ministry, who has volunteered at Perryville and communicates often with prisoners.

Crecca is part of the Arizona Interfaith Network, a group of faith-based leaders across the state that organizes people for social and economic improvement.

“We feel that her death is a rallying cry, not only to help with the release of inmates as possible but also about the underlying conditions there that make them really vulnerable to the virus,” Crecca said.

“It was alarming very early on in our conversations with the state about how they were not addressing the asymptomatic nature of the virus,” said Joe Rubio, lead organizer of the Arizona Interfaith Network.

The faith groups started meeting with Department of Corrections Director David Shinn in April and less often with Dr. Cara Christ, Arizona Department of Health Services director, to discuss what the state could do to better protect inmates from the virus.

“No one who is incarcerated should have a death sentence by virus, but particularly those who are incarcerated for low-level offenses,” [Episcopal Bishop Jennifer] Reddall said. “They should not be put in a place where they’re going to die because of some infraction."

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Tucson Prison Inmates Say Close Conditions, Slow Test Results Spread COVID-19, Arizona Daily Star [pdf]