COVID-19 in Benton County jails; mother & former inmate speak out

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BENTON COUNTY, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – COVID-19 cases at the Benton County jail continue to rise, with the case count now hitting triple digits.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, as of November 2, 2020, the jail has had 190 detainees and 16 employees test positive for COVID-19.

Over the last several weeks, KNWA/FOX24 has heard from concerned families and loved ones of inmates in Benton County.

A day after getting tested for coronavirus, Brent Alexander was released from the Benton County jail before knowing his COVID-19 status. He said after many requests for the results, he learned he was COVID-19 positive-two days after his release.

“They released me and they didn’t notify the bail project they didn’t let me know they didn’t let my mother know,” he said.

However, according to Benton County Lieutenant, Shannon Jenkins, this followed protocol.

“All released inmates are given a CDC guidelines sheet for potential Covid exposure for them to follow if they feel they’ve been exposed or become symptomatic for COVID-19,” she said. “This includes inmates that may be released before test results are received.”

Jenkins also said medical staff is on site and inmates have access to them 24/7.

“Trying to get medical down there- no that’s a lie,” Alexander said. “You try to get medical down there the only way to do it is have a heart attack or a seizure.”

Women in the jail have shared similar complaints with their family members.

They have the right to adequate medical treatment and for them to deny her that it’s cruel and unusual punishment.”

-HEATHER MCENTYRE, MOTHER, BENTON COUNTY INMATE

Mcentyre’s daughter tested positive for coronavirus last week. The mom said she is concerned for her health after hearing about the lack of medical care she has received.

“They have the right to adequate medical treatment and for them to deny her that it’s cruel and unusual punishment,” Mcentyre said.

Mcentyre says her daughter tells her in addition to not being checked on, she is rarely given any medicine and the pod she is quarantined in is not being cleaned.

Jenkins, however, said cleaning is done twice a day.

It’s this confusion Mcentyre is hopeful can be cleared up, especially as this pandemic continues.

“I’m not doing this just for my daughter I’m doing it for anybody that’s in there,” she said.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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