9 North Lake Correctional Facility inmates test positive with COVID-19

Apr 21, 2020

 

Protesters stand outside North Lake Correctional Facility on its opening day as a federal prison for immigrants Oct. 1, 2019
Credit Taylor Wizner / Interlochen Public Radio

Nine inmates at the North Lake Correctional Facility in Baldwin tested positive for COVID-19, according to the state.

Last week, GEO Group — the company that owns the prison — said five prison employees also have the disease.

The Baldwin prison currently houses 1,591 inmates, most of whom are immigrants who have been convicted of federal crimes. 

Inmate Nestor Sandoval Roca says it’s also hard to keep up hygiene in the prison because prisoners must buy their own soap and have limited access to water.

“(The prison guards) control the water,” he says. “I don’t have a lot.”

Though the guards and prisoners were provided masks in response to the pandemic, Sandoval Roca worries the disease will spread to his unit because he doesn’t see guards taking proper precautions.

“I never see the (guards) handwashing,” he says. “A couple of times I see someone keep the mask around his neck.”

Several inmates have also recently ended a hunger strike, that’s been going on and off for weeks.

They’ve protested various conditions, including inadequate food, discrimination by prison guards and long stays in solitary confinement.

GEO Group has not responded to repeated requests from IPR News.