The Oregon Department of Corrections announced a fifth inmate has died after testing positive for COVID-19.
The unidentified man was between 50 and 60 years old, the DOC said in a release. He was serving a sentence at the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution in Pendleton and died at a local hospital.
This is the fourth DOC inmate to die from the virus this month.
Inmates are at greater risk for COVID-19 because it’s nearly impossible to socially distance inside jails and prisons.
In June, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown commuted the sentences of 57 people who were incarcerated. This week, she announced she’s preparing to commute the sentences of more medically vulnerable inmates.
The governor asked the DOC for information about inmates who are within two months of release, who have secured housing, have had good behavior and are not serving a sentence for a violent crime against another person.
There are approximately 300-400 inmates who could qualify under the governor’s parameters, according to the DOC.
Bobbin Singh, executive director of the Oregon Justice Resource Center, said the state has not done enough to protect inmates.
”We are seeing the consequences of our state’s choice to do as little as possible to mitigate the risk of harm from COVID-19 within our prisons,” he said in a statement.
“We must accept reality, which is that Oregon is currently failing its incarcerated residents and their loved ones. When all of this is over, Oregonians should be able to look back with confidence that everything possible was done to save lives and protect the health for everyone in our state. We will not be able to do that regarding our prisons.”