Press Release

State prisons are failing World Health Organization (WHO) testing standards during COVID-19 crisis

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Rabiah Burks, 202-822-6700

State prisons are failing World Health Organization (WHO) testing standards during COVID-19 crisis

WASHINGTON – State prisons across the country are failing in their attempts to keep people safe during the COVID-19 outbreak. The WHO has determined that a rate of positive tests above 10 percent means there are a significant number of infected but untested people. In some states, including Florida and North Carolina, the rates aren’t just above 10 percent, but nearly 5 times that rate.
FAMM has called for more transparency, increased testing, and other actions to protecting vulnerable people in state prisons during the COVID-19 crisis. All state prison systems need safely reduce their populations, protect the people in their care, and communicate clearly and effectively with the families and the general public.

“Prisons are notorious for their lack of transparency,” said FAMM President Kevin Ring. “We’re calling for more testing because we know that viruses spread quickly through their facilities, and families deserve to know what is being done to protect those inside. We want real data and real action for the families who are looking to the prisons to keep their loved ones safe.”

FAMM has sent letters to the following states asking officials to address the various issues present there:

From FAMM’s Vice President of Policy Molly Gill to Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation, and Reentry Director David Shinn

From FAMM’s Florida State Director Greg Newburn to Florida Dept. of Corrections Sec. Mark Inch

From FAMM’s Vice President of Policy Molly Gill to North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and Department of Public Safety Secretary Erik A. Hooks

The Centers for Disease Control has issued interim guidance on managing COVID-19 in correctional facilities, and reducing the prison population will help meet these guidelines.

For nearly three decades, FAMM has united the voices of affected families, the formerly incarcerated, and a range of stakeholders and advocates to fight for a more fair and effective justice system. FAMM’s focus on ending a one-size-fits-all punishment structure has led to reforms to sentencing and prison policies in 6 states and is paving the way to programs that support rehabilitation for the 94% of all prisoners who will return to our neighborhoods one day.


FAMM is a national nonpartisan advocacy organization that promotes fair and effective criminal justice policies that safeguard taxpayer dollars and keep our communities safe. Founded in 1991, FAMM is helping transform America’s criminal justice system by uniting the voices of impacted families and individuals and elevating the issues all across the country.