April 8, 2020

New York State Will Produce Hand Sanitizer Made By Prison Inmates

State prisoners, paid an average of 65 cents an hour, will make the product to combat shortages due to the coronavirus outbreak.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said Monday inmates in a state prison will produce 100,000 gallons of a state-branded hand sanitizer to offset reported price gouging by vendors and shortages of the product in government agencies, schools, prisons and mass transit lines stemming from the coronavirus outbreak.

Cuomo’s announcement came during a daily press conference on the COVID-19 outbreak, which has worsened in New York over the last week.

Called “NYS Clean,” the hand sanitizer will be produced by inmates at Great Meadow Correctional Facility in upstate New York.

Corcraft, the division of the state’s Department of Corrections and Community Supervision that arranges industrial and manufacturing work for prison inmates, pays inmates an average of 65 cents per hour, Gothamist reported in 2017. 

Last week, the Marshall Project reported that many prisons are ill-equipped to protect inmates from the coronavirus outbreak — including not being able to supply alcohol-based hand sanitizer because in some facilities, it is considered contraband.

Cuomo at his press conference boasted about the prison product’s higher alcohol level (75%, more than the 60% recommended by the Centers for Disease Control for alcohol-based hand sanitizers), lower price and “floral bouquet” scent.

“This is a superior product to products now on the market,” he said, after unveiling the new bottles of hand sanitizer, hidden behind a set of curtains.

On Saturday, he declared a state of emergency for New York in order to expedite funding, the allocation of health care professionals and resources, and testing for the virus.

As of Monday, the state had reported 142 confirmed cases of it. The executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Rick Cotton, is among those newly testing positive for COVID-19, Cuomo announced.

Some schools in the state have closed and some colleges have canceled classes, including New York City’s Columbia University.


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