Skip to Content

DIGGING DEEPER: Some Arizona inmates now receiving COVID-19 vaccinations

Remaining Ad Time Ad - 00:00

TUCSON (KVOA) - On any given day, Arizona's state prisons house about 37,000 inmates.

Over the past year, some of those facilities have become COVID-19 hotspots.

As of this week, 41 Arizona inmates have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began. There have also been more than 12,000 reported positive cases reported.

Now that a vaccine is now available, the question becomes when will those who are locked up get theirs?

“We hear a lot more desperation from our loved ones and their family members inside," said Isis Gil, with the Puente Human Rights Movement. "The situation is getting more and more dire."

For those with loved ones serving time inside Arizona state prisons, the past year has been difficult.

There have been more than 2.200 confirmed COVID-19 cases among inmates at the Arizona State Prison on South Wilmot Road. A dozen of those cases were deadly.    

Over the past year, groups including the Puente Human Rights Movement have been rallying outside the prison.

They say the state has not done enough to ensure the health and safety of those who are locked up.

“We just want our people to be treated as humans," Gil said. "We need to rehabilitate our people instead of casting them aside and punishing them for the worst moment of their lives."

The Arizona Department of Corrections Rehabilitation and Re-Entry did not respond to the Digging Deeper team's request for information about their plan to vaccinate inmates.

However, Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services says the process is already underway.

“They have started vaccinating in the infirmary, and I believe there's another high-risk unit that they're looking - that they've vaccinated in,” Dr. Christ said last Friday. "They'll be starting with those that are 55 and above, and then once they get those done, they'll move to the next age group as well.”

There has also been more than 2,700 prison staff who self-reported positive for COVID-19.

ADCRR began offering the vaccine to officers back in January, but it is unclear how many have received one so far.

Paul Birmingham

Paul Birmingham is an Investigative Producer for KVOA News 4 Tucson. He is a three time Edward R. Murrow award winner, native Tucsonan, and a proud Arizona Wildcat.

Skip to content