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NSA leaker Reality Winner among 500 women with coronavirus at Texas federal prison

Reality Winner
Convicted NSA leaker Reality Winner.

FORT WORTH, Texas — Hundreds of incarcerated women in Texas, including NSA leaker Reality Winner, are at the center of one of the largest coronavirus outbreaks at a federal correctional facility in the country.

At least 510 detainees and three staff at Federal Medical Center Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas, have tested positive for Covid-19, data from the Bureau of Prisons shows. That’s nearly 40% of the detainees.

Increased testing at the facility started on July 1 and detainees are having their temperatures taken twice a day, the Bureau of Prisons told CNN in a statement.

Winner, a former NSA contractor convicted of leaking confidential information to the media, is among the detaineed who have contracted the virus, her mother Billie Winner-Davis told CNN.

“This could happen to any one of us. Just because someone is an inmate in a prison doesn’t mean that they are less than human. They are still loved,” Winner-Davis said about her daughter, who has not shown any symptoms of the virus.

“Reality, like many other non-violent first offenders, doesn’t deserve this. This is torture. This could possibly even be a death sentence,” she added.

Winner’s attorneys filed a request for her to be released due to the pandemic in April, Winner-Davis says. The request was denied, but an appeal has been filed. Winner is set to be released in November 2021.

Three FMC Carswell detainees who had the virus have died since April. A 69-year-old woman and a 51-year-old woman who were placed on ventilators at local hospitals died in the past week, the Bureau of Prisons said. Both suffered from pre-existing conditions.

The third woman, Andrea Circle Bear, died in April and was the first female federal prisoner to die after contracting the virus. Circle Bear, 30, was pregnant when she was transferred to FMC Carswell in late March and was placed into quarantine under the agency’s coronavirus measures, the Bureau of Prisons said in a statement. She gave birth while on a ventilator before she died.

The outbreak at America’s largest federal prison hospital for women is only the second largest among federal facilities in the country.

Another Texas facility, the Federal Correctional Institute Seagoville, near the city of Dallas, has 1,156 positive cases among detainees and 10 staff members, the BOP says. That’s 63% of the facility’s population.

Mass testing at FCI Seagoville began at the end of June, the BOP told CNN in a statement.

The agency says it’s “carefully monitoring the spread of the Covid-19 virus. As with any type of emergency situation, we carefully assess how to best ensure the safety of staff, inmates and the public.”

As of Tuesday, there were 4,167 federal detainees and 350 staff across the United States who have tested positive for the virus, the agency said. More than 129,236 people are detained in facilities managed by the BOP.

More than 5,550 inmates and 640 staff have recovered. Ninety-seven detainees and one staff member have died due to the virus, according to the BOP.

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