Case Title

Wilson v. Williams - United States District Court, Northern District of Ohio (No. 4:20-cv-794)

Document Type

Briefs and Court Filings

Publication Date



As a tragic combination of infectious and deadly, COVID-19 poses a once-in-a-lifetime threat on a worldwide scale. Every state and territory in the United States has now been impacted, with nearly half a million cases and over 20,000 deaths reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Even under ordinary conditions, each person who contracts this illness can be expected to infect between 2 and 3 others.

Cramped, overcrowded prisons amplify this threat. With thousands of people literally stacked on top of each other and unable to move around without rubbing shoulders, such environments are fundamentally incompatible with medically-indicated social distancing and hygiene protocols. As a result, they present a grave threat not only to prisoners and staff, but also to the broader community by enabling the spread of COVID-19 both inside and outside the prison walls.

This danger is playing out with disastrous consequences in Elkton Federal Correctional Institution ("FCI Elkton"), a low-security federal correctional institution with an adjacent low security satellite prison ("FSL Elkton"), collectively described as "Elkton." As of April 12, 2020, at least 3 prisoners have died, and scores of prisoners and staff have reportedly been hospitalized, including more than a dozen who have needed ventilators to stay alive. These numbers will continue to grow exponentially. Despite knowing the risks to prisoners, staff, and the community, Elkton has failed to provide meaningful protection against the spread of the disease. Prisoners are still clustered together in confined spaces with limited access to hygiene and inadequate ventilation.