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Inmate's mother worried about coronavirus in prisons

Posted at 9:19 PM, Mar 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-30 21:19:26-04

LANSING, Mich. — Cindy Merling's son is serving time at the Parnall Correctional Facility in Jackson County.

Cindy Merling's son is expected to be released from Parnall Correctional Facility in June. She's worried he'll contract coronavirus and die before that day comes.He's up for positive parole and will be released in June.

His mother, is worried he'll catch coronavirus and die before that day comes.

"Some of these guys are wondering: 'am I ever going to see a loved one again?'" said Merling.

Merling says it's been at least a month since she was able to see her son in person at Parnall Correctional Facility.

She's worried that visit was her last.

She says her son and other inmates feel the same way.

"They're terrified," Merling said. "They feel like they're sitting ducks and just waiting for their day to possibly get the virus and die."

The total cases at Parnall Correctional Facility have risen to 29.

The corrections department says it's doing what it can to prevent further spreading.

"We're moving those positive prisoners out of Parnall and into the Cotton Correctional Facility...across the street," said Chris Gautz, from the Michigan Department of Corrections. "We're getting those positive cases out of Parnall, limiting the potential to spread the virus to other prisoners and putting them all in one unit together at Cotton."

For families of inmates, the concern still lies within the facility.

"They're all using the same phone, same bathrooms, the same kitchen. They're lucky if they can go outside," said Merling. "It's a petri dish."

Gautz tells me the state is working to keep their facilities as clean as possible, and to expedite parole processes across the state.

Merling hopes all inmates that are up for parole soon can be released, not just her son.

"Did they make a mistake? Yeah, a stupid mistake. But they don't deserve to die because they made a stupid mistake."

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