Elm Park mom hopes tale of son’s incarceration can lose mild on broader COVID issues

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Staten Islander Jennifer Donnelly believes her son, who Long Island police arrested in November, is innocent — but no issue the outcome of his trial she’s anxious about coronavirus (COVID-19) in the state’s prison and jail methods.

Suffolk County Law enforcement arrested 19-yr-outdated Robert Diaz on Nov. 2 for alleged gun possession and violation of a courtroom buy. He’s been held considering that then in the county’s jail procedure on bail of both $50,000 cash or $100,000 bond.

Donnelly, of Elm Park, stated Diaz analyzed beneficial for the virus in December, and has been topic to multiple transfers by the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Workplace, which oversees the jails, earning it tough to remain in touch with him.

Moreover, her son — who is an aspiring rapper — has asthma, generating him more vulnerable to the effects of the virus, and as conditions rise all over the point out and country, Donnelly claimed her worries only improve.

“I am really pressured out about my son’s condition,” she explained. “I can’t get any facts when I simply call the jail cell, they will not tell me something about him.”

She mentioned she’s read from other households with relations in the jail procedure that have very similar considerations about the situations.


The pandemic has impacted both of those inmates and workers across the state’s jail and prison techniques.

Since the get started of the pandemic, 3,952 staff members customers and 4,502 inmates had confirmed conditions of the virus as of Wednesday, in accordance to the point out Section of Correction and Community Supervision (DOCCS).

The identical information confirmed 7 workers and 29 inmates died as a consequence of the virus.

In accordance to the Facilities for Condition Control and Avoidance (CDC), only 6% of deaths linked to the pandemic stated COVID-19 as the lone cause. Co-morbidities involve cancer, being overweight, and present respiratory difficulties, in accordance to the CDC.

Of the 4,502 inmates with verified scenarios, 3,379 have recovered leaving 1,123 of the 40,956 inmates housed in the system’s 52 facilities infected with the virus.


Chief Deputy for the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Business, Michael Sharkey, informed the Progress/SILive.com that the jail method has been “very aggressive” in mitigating the virus’ spread, and claimed that up right until Thanksgiving it had only had two inmate instances relevant to in-facility distribute.

“Everyone has been working with this pandemic given that past March, and we’ve been quite, incredibly successful in our services in initiating safeguards to keep items at a bare minimum,” he mentioned. “There’s been that ‘second surge,’ if you will, because Thanksgiving and that has impacted us as nicely.”

In addition to a required mask plan and necessary temperature exams for employees entering the facility, Sharkey mentioned there is round-the-clock health care team at the their amenities and laid out some of the department’s protocols for quarantine, including:

  • New inmates and inmates returning to amenities are automatically set on a 14-day quarantine away from the current jail populace and monitored to see if they develop COVID symptoms.
  • Quarantine protocol also goes into place for overall housing spots where by an inmate checks good.

Precise testing for the virus amongst inmates is a final decision that is eventually produced by the Suffolk County Office of Wellness Products and services.

On Tuesday, Donnelly claimed she acquired a letter from the warden at her son’s jail informing her about the protocols they have in put, but that it did not simplicity her anxieties mainly because she suggests it contradicts what she’s been hearing from her son.

“I really don’t consider I’ll at any time come to feel greater about the circumstance. I never believe (the letter) seriously assisted,” she reported.


The Lawful Support Society of New York has advocated for release of several inmates, who are at higher danger from the virus, in the state’s jail and prison programs.

Attorneys for Lawful Aid have filed far more than 100 COVID-19 clemency applications because the start out of the pandemic, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo has granted just just one.

Their clientele searching for clemency contain a 59-year-previous male with stage-two leukemia, hypertension and “kidney sickness,” and a 62-12 months-aged person with HIV and a warmth murmur. Both of those adult men have powerful disciplinary records, and are serving time for lower-level drug offenses, according to the Lawful Support Modern society.

As New York has begun its vaccination process, Legal Help has also identified as for the condition to begin giving the vaccine to its incarcerated inhabitants.

When the governor has licensed vaccination for prison and jail staffs all around the point out, inmates have nevertheless to be authorized regardless of CDC recommendations to vaccinate inmates and staff at the same time, “because of their shared elevated possibility of illness.

“Outbreaks in correctional and detention services are usually challenging to regulate provided the incapability to bodily length, constrained place for isolation or quarantine
, and constrained tests and private protecting tools methods.”

In a Thursday media release, Supervising Attorney with the Prisoners’ Rights Challenge at The Legal Aid Culture, Stefen Shorter pointed out that inmate vaccinations experienced been authorised in other states, including Iowa, Massachusetts, and Virginia.

“While governors in other states choose decisive motion to stem the distribute of COVID-19 in carceral options, Governor Cuomo has ignored the appeals of wellness experts, who concur that prisons and jails are superior possibility configurations that ought to be prioritized for vaccine entry,” Limited stated.

“In look at of these each day sizable boosts in confirmed virus conditions in DOCCS, it’s unconscionable that Governor Cuomo proceeds to deny our clientele lifesaving reduction. We demand action now,” Shorter continued.

DOCCS spokesperson Thomas Mailey mentioned the office is doing the job with the state Division of Health and fitness to produce a program to vaccinate the system’s inmates.

Regarding Diaz’s incarceration, Deputy Chief Sharkey pointed out that, immediately after the state’s the latest bail reform, only people charged with the most major crimes are held with bail whilst awaiting their trial. Diaz’s subsequent appearance is scheduled for Feb. 4, in accordance to on line court data.

Donnelly stated she understands that persons have to have to be held accountable for their actions, but that more consideration desires to be offered to inmates’ wellness through the pandemic.

“I require to assistance my son and the other inmates,” she said. “They are trapped in a dwelling nightmare, the ailments of these services are currently disgusting, now they are preventing for their overall health.”