Inmates in Tucson stage peaceful walkout over COVID-19 concerns

Fact Finders: Prison walkout

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Inmates at the Whetstone Unit in Tucson staged a peaceful walkout on Thursday evening.

We are told this demonstration stemmed from concerns about the spread of COVID-19 inside the facility.

Whetstone is a minimum custody, dormitory-style housing unit.

“He called me right in the middle of it sounding very panicked,” said Patty whose son participated in the walkout.

“Those things hardly ever end okay, so I didn’t sleep last night,' Patty said.

Patty said her son contacted her on Friday and told her the demonstration remained peaceful.

“He said he has never seen anything so unified in his life,” Patty said.

The Arizona Department of Corrections Rehabilitation and Re-entry confirmed staff and inmates had conversations Thursday night during the walkout. The department said those conversations continued Friday morning during a town hall centered on safety during this COVID-19 pandemic.

The inmates reportedly told staff they want to remain on lockdown to cut down on the spread of COVID-19, and wanted to have their lunches delivered to them.

The department confirmed the unit has implemented modified operations and inamtes will receive meals in house for the next 14 days.

According to the department, 100 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 in Tucson. The results of another 65 tests are pending.

The department confirms two inmates have died from COVID-19, and another three inmates’ deaths are potentially linked to the virus.

Patty said her son has one request.

“He simply wants to be kept safe,” Patty said.

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