Is there a COVID outbreak on Alabama’s death row? Here’s what we know

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FILE – In this Oct. 22, 2019, file photo, a sign reads, “HELP,” in the window of an inmate cell seen during a tour by state officials at Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Ala. Alabama lawmakers return to Montgomery on Monday, Sept. 27, 2021, to vote on a $1.3 billion prison construction plan proponents say will help address the state’s longstanding problems in corrections, but critics argue the troubles go much deeper and won’t be remedied with brick, mortar and bars. (AP Photo/Kim Chandler, File)

ATMORE, Ala. (WIAT) — A nonprofit organization founded and run by individuals sentenced to death in Alabama has said there is currently “an outbreak of COVID” on the state’s death row.

In a newsletter published earlier this week, Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty (PHADP) said that while the disease has not yet led to deaths among condemned individuals, the outbreak has caused the nonprofit’s members to be “limited in the work we can accomplish right now.”

“We trust that those of us who were smart enough to be vaccinated will come through this okay, and of course we hope that the others will as well,” the newsletter said.

So far, officials with the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) have remained silent on the issue. CBS 42 made multiple attempts to contact ADOC without success.

While prison officials make some information about COVID-19 among its overall prison population public, death row-specific data is not currently available.

In total, 2,428 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed among Alabama’s incarcerated population since the pandemic began, according to ADOC. Of those, 215 cases were currently active as of Jan. 7, according to the agency.

In the week leading up to Jan. 7, data provided by ADOC shows that six new prisoners tested positive for COVID-19 in Holman Correctional Facility, which houses condemned prisoners, although the agency’s data does not indicate whether the positive individuals are located on death row.

Esther Brown, the executive director of Project Hope, said in an interview Friday that she knows of at least 6 individuals on death row who currently have COVID, including one of her organization’s board members.

Brown said that she is focused on what impact staff cases may have on future executions.

“Whether this outbreak will affect the upcoming execution remains to be seen,” Brown said.

Alabama is currently appealing a court order that blocked the execution of Matthew Reeves, which was scheduled for Jan. 27.

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