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2 Coronavirus Cases Confirmed in New Jersey Prison with ICE Detainees

The Hudson County Corrections and Rehabilitation Center in New Jersey, which houses both county inmates and ICE detainees, has been placed on lockdown for two weeks.

by David Noriega and Belle Cushing
Mar 22 2020, 9:22pm

Two inmates at the county correctional facility in Hudson County, New Jersey, tested positive for COVID-19 Sunday, according to a county spokesperson.

The two individuals are now under individualized quarantine. Additionally, the jail will be on lockdown for 14 days, according to an email reviewed by VICE News sent to attorneys by the director of corrections for the facility.

The Hudson County Corrections and Rehabilitation Center houses both county inmates and detainees of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who are detained for civil immigration violations rather than criminal offenses. The two positive cases of COVID-19 were among county inmates, not ICE detainees.

James Kennelly, the county spokesperson, said there were no additional confirmed cases among staff, county inmates, or ICE detainees. Kennelly did not respond to questions about the exact nature of the individual quarantines, the facility-wide lockdown, or other measures being taken to prevent the spread of the disease.

The news comes amid reports of a growing number of COVID-19 cases inside correctional facilities in the New York City area. At least 38 people on Rikers Island — both inmates and employees — have tested positive for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

ICE detainees at the Hudson County jail and two other facilities in New Jersey launched hunger strikes this week protesting their continued confinement amid the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“People need to be freed from these facilities as a matter of public health,” said Sophia Gurulé, an attorney with the Bronx Defenders who represents clients at the New Jersey jail. “Federal, state, and city legislators can’t continue to ignore currently incarcerated people. They are elected officials and their representation includes them, and it's time that they reckon with that reality.”

Cover: Hudson County Correctional Facility, Kearny, NJ. (Google Maps Satellite View)

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