Payment plans now available. Click here for more information.

Texas Prisons And The Coronavirus: What You Or A Loved One Need To Know

Carlee Sutera
Carlee Sutera Student, Rutgers Law School
Carlee is a 2L at Rutgers Law School
  • Image by
    Barbara Rosner from Pixabay
covid in texas prison
Covid-19 is stronger than ever in certain states. Texas has their  highest hospitalization rates since the pandemic began.

As of June 25, 113,456 inmates in Texas have been tested for COVID-19.

7,653 inmates have tested positive, 6,625 have recovered, and there are 72 confirmed COVID related deaths.

With cases on the rise, it is important to know what state and local governments are doing to protect vulnerable populations, such as prison inmates. In prison, it's nearly impossible to stay six feet away from others. Masks are hit or miss. Here is what you need to know about Texas prisons and the Coronavirus:

Testing is an essential part of keeping people safe. In prisons where inmates are kept in close quarters, testing and isolation is the main way to keep COVID-19 form spreading.

In March the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) began testing inmates who had symptoms of COVID-19 and medically isolating those who tested positive. TDCJ has also claimed that prisoners who have COVID-19 infections are only taken out of their cells to shower. They do so in small groups with others who have tested positive for COVID-19. 

But prisoners are telling a different story. Many says their symptoms are being ignored, and that sick or exposed inmates are being placed in cells with healthy inmates.

Inmates at Huntsville’s Wynne Unit even claim that men who have been separated from one another are still being taken to the showers together in large groups.

In mid-May the TDCJ announced that it was beginning to implement self-administered COVID-19 testing in all prisons.

Every state inmate was required to watch a tutorial on how to administer the cheek swab tests.

The TDCJ said that the tests are the same FDA approved test kits being used by the United States Air Force and clinical studies suggest that they have equivalent sensitivity to nasal swabs that require a medical professional.

The goal of this mass testing to be able to identify and isolate asymptomatic inmates in order to further prevent the spread of COVID-19.

COVID-19 Policies
Besides testing and isolation, the TDCJ announced other policies in hopes to limit the spread of COVID-19.

These policies included limiting staff travel. The TDCJ suggested that prison staff should limit any unnecessary domestic traveling and that agency travel should be limited unless it is an absolute necessity.

Staff wishing to travel internationally must have their trip approved by their division director, and if approved, there may be a delay in their return to work after returning to the US.

The TDCJ also advises that all staff who feel ill or have a fever stay home.

If a staff member begins to feel ill at work, and they are assigned to an area where the Coronavirus has been confirmed, they will be required to complete the TDCJ COVID-19 Screening.

Based on the completion of the screening, if an employee appears to be ill, they will be sent home and will be required to submit a physician’s note stating the employee is clear of any symptoms of COVID-19 upon returning to work.

Beginning on March 13, In accordance with Governor Abbott’s declaration, the TDCJ temporarily suspended visitation at all facilities statewide.

During the pandemic, concerned family members and activists are calling for the state of Texas to reduce its prison population in order to control the spread of COVID-19.

Since the pandemic started, the prison population has dropped from 140,000 to about 133,000 due to parole releases and the current freeze on state prisons taking inmates from county jails.

Public information officer Raymond Estrada said that there were about 11,000 offenders, as of April, who had been approved for parole.  

People are worried that the parole process for some inmates has been slowed due to the fact that some parole programs have been put on hold because of the pandemic.

The TDCJ has stated that it will not be rethinking the release process of inmates as the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, a nonprofit organization focusing on lowering prison populations, has requested.

Rep. James White, R-Woodville, chairman of the House Corrections Committee has stated that some parole programming has been delayed during the pandemic, but is adamant that the process must play out according to state law.

If you want to talk to a Court Buddy lawyer about your safety and rights during the pandemic, reach out to us. 

Court Buddy is here to connect you with an experienced and trusted lawyer who can help you at an affordable rate. The company assists with the management of your case and lawyer relationship. Your lawyer will assess your legal issue in a timely and confidential manner, explain why you need or do not need a lawyer, and only charge you for the legal services performed and associated out of pocket fees. This article is intended to convey general information and does not constitute legal advice.

Ready to get started? We’re here to help.

Related Blogs

  • Patty Lamberti
  • |
  • 29 July, 2020
How Eviction Moratoriums Help Prevent The Spread Of COVID-19

- additional reporting by Monzerrath Ortiz Eviction moratoriums mean landlords can't evict tenants who aren't paying rent due to...

  • Carlee Sutera
  • |
  • 28 July, 2020
The Dirty Tricks Landlords Pull To Force You Out And What To Do About Them

In the midst of a global pandemic, record high unemployment rates, and the official end of the federal moratorium on evictions, renters need to b...

  • Cassidy Chansirik
  • |
  • 28 July, 2020
What To Do If Your Job Asks You To Sign A COVID-19 Liability Waiver Upon Returning To Work

Some workplaces, fearful of future lawsuits, are asking their employees to sign COVID-19 liability waivers upon returning to work in-person. ...

  • Patty Lamberti
  • |
  • 24 July, 2020
The Day We've Been Dreading Is Here

Tomorrow is July 25th, a date we've been dreading for a long time because the federal moratorium on evictions will end. This eviction ban ...

  • Patty Lamberti
  • |
  • 24 July, 2020
Don't Sign COVID-19 Liability Waivers

We had an article published today on Fast Company about how many schools and universities are asking people to sign COVID-19 liability waivers,&n...

  • Sona Sulakian
  • |
  • 22 July, 2020
What Happens When Federal Unemployment Benefits End This Week

More than 25 million Americans are set to lose $600 per week in unemployment benefits this Saturday, July 25 (July 26 for New York), unless Congr...

Hablamos Español

Hablamos Español

Still have questions?

Call us toll-free at (866) 653-3017 to speak with a Client Success Specialist today.

Hablamos Español

Hablamos Español

Overall great experience from beginning to end! On the plus, I won my case!"

Overall great experience from beginning to end! On the plus, I won my case!"

Jonathan R, California

Court Buddy made it easy for me to handle my tough court case. I feel like I'm not alone."

Court Buddy made it easy for me to handle my tough court case. I feel like I'm not alone."

Silvia S, California