Judge denies state request to withhold some information about COVID-19 prison precautions

NC judge denies request to withhold COVID-19 information

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) – A judge has denied a request from the N.C. Department of Public Safety that would modify an order to allow the agency to keep from reporting certain information about COVID-19 in prisons.

Last week, Wake County Superior Court Judge Vince Rozier, Jr. signed an order that found DPS had likely violated prisoners’ constitutional rights by failing to properly protect them from the virus.

Included in the order was a list of actions the agency must take and information that must be reported to the court.

Among the information was the number of masks issued to each inmate along with information—including pictures or videos—about how the inmates were housed inside the prisons.

On Monday, Rozier issued a new order denying a request from DPS attorneys to not produce that information.

“Defendants’ motion does not properly allege or implicate an inability to perform,” Rozier’s order said.

“Defendants have requested not to provide information regarding the number of masks each inmate has been issued in spite of their arguments, affidavits and contentions related to the number of masks previously provided to inmates,” it continued.

The judge did give the department four more days to submit its overall plan to ensure all inmates were being properly protected from the virus. It is not due on June 26.

As part of Rozier’s original order in the case, DPS had to come up with a plan to test all inmates for the virus. Late last week, state health and prison officials announced plans to test all inmates but did not acknowledge that the plan only came to fruition after an order from a judge.

Rozier said a hearing in the case would be scheduled for the week of June 29.

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