Trio Test Positive for Coronavirus at Georgia Prison

Legal groups call for release of low-level non-threatening prisoners

March 22, 2020
Legal groups  argue that continuing to hold the inmates in conditions that pose such serious health risks is unconstitutional

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)


Lee State Prison in Leesburg, GA is where corrections officials say 3 inmates have tested positive for the coronavirus.

As of noon Sunday, there were 600 confirmed cases and 23 deaths from COVID-19/Coronavirus in Georgia.

One of the inmates was hospitalized on March 15. While reports indicate the other two were hospitalized on March 16.

Additionally, 3 other detainees at the southwest Georgia jail are now being treated for "flu-like" symptoms.

Leesburg is in Lee County which is located next to Dougherty County which, as of noon Sunday, had 48 confirmed cases of the coronavirus.

Officials at the Fulton County jail say there are no suspected or confirmed cases of the virus at that facility.

"They can't exercise social distancing as the rest of us are being told to" says Andrea Young, Executive Director of ACLU Georgia. Young says on March 18 they sent an open letter to all public officials with responsibility for dealing with COVID-19 in the criminal legal system, after a prison guard in Forsyth County tested positive for the coronavirus. She says the letter specified "actions that the governor, sheriffs, probation and parole agents, parole boards, police, prosecutors, and judges should take to prevent the harm inflicted by SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 that can make things immensely more difficult for people involved in the criminal legal system."

The American Civil Liberties Union has been calling on state and federal officials to release low-level offenders, as-well-as sickly or elderly detainees home early because of fears over coronavirus. States like California, New York, Texas, Ohio and others have been doing that.

"We should not have people in these circumstances who are not a threat to our community." Young adds, "These people are being subjected to a very high-level of risk, that's just not warranted in the current emergency."  She says their release should to be expedited, "we don't need to concentrate people in our jails and prisons unless it's absolutely necessary for public safety."