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Wisconsin inmates fear overcrowded prisons during pandemic

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Mia White, an inmate at the Robert E. Ellsworth Correctional Center in Union Grove, has numerous health problems including an enlarged heart, which makes it hard to breathe.

But when her doctor recommended she leave the prison to get medical care, White refused — fearful of being placed into quarantine and unable to contact her family, and afraid of “dying alone” if she contracts COVID-19, which she calls “the invisible enemy.”

With a year left on her sentence for misdemeanor battery, White prays she won’t be infected by the correctional officers without masks, or the women who sit close by during meals, or her cellmate who sleeps less than 6 feet from her.

Life inside the walls of Wisconsin’s prisons has transformed as officials and inmates try to slow the spread of the virus. Inmates say there are more frequent cleanings, and they have been issued cloth masks.

Associated Press

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