Texas prison inmates are suing for hand sanitizer, soap and paper towels, alleging that their prison unit hasn't taken enough precautions to stop the spread of novel coronavirus, according to a new federal lawsuit.
The lawsuit says both the Texas criminal justice system and the community around the Wallace Pack Unit in Grimes County have seen multiple reported cases of the novel coronavirus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that jails make cleaning supplies, personal protective equipment and hand sanitizer available.
The lawsuit alleges that Texas state inmates can't get access to hand sanitizer because of state policy — even while some inmates have been forced to make it.
The lawsuit also claims the prison hasn't taken enough steps to stop the virus from spreading, such as by reducing inmate interactions.
So far, an inmate and two employees at other facilities in the Texas prison system have tested positive for coronavirus, the lawsuit said.
A spokesperson for the Texas state prison system declined to comment on the lawsuit's allegations because the state is still reviewing it. He also said the health practices at Texas correctional facilities are evolving, but didn't give specifics.
"The health and wellbeing of TDCJ employees and contractors as well as the offenders in our custody is of utmost importance. TDCJ is working in close contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Texas State Health officials," Jeremy Desel said in an email Monday. "As guidance from the CDC and state health officials evolves so do our practices."