Lately, the alleged report that disgraced Hollywood producer 68-year-old Harvey Weinstein, sentenced to 23-years in prison, has contracted coronavirus, has been floating around.

And understandably, people were beyond ecstatic to hear the news, celebrating the fact that Weinstein was getting what was due to him, that his “karma” is what he is reaping here while moaning the fact that if he succumbs to the virus, the justice of his 23-years sentence would be in vain.

But in these celebrations, the fact that many have totally missed out on is that if Harvey Weinstein becomes a victim of coronavirus behind bars, the nature of the pandemic will ensure that he is not the only casualty. Prisons in the city hold in incarceration, with barely sufficient hygienic with zero chances of social distancing. In fact, as reported by The Intercept, recently when prisoners asked about maintaining “social distancing” in their crowded dormitories, they were advised to sleep head to toe.

Dozens of Rikers inmates on March 22 refused to leave their dormitories in retaliation to the poor arrangement in the jail to protect them from the coronavirus outbreak. In such unsanitary conditions, the sickness of one will quickly spread to thousands of incarcerated people.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has already recognized the impending possibility of pandemic exploding in the closed and congested prison quarters and announced the release of 23 older prisoners. He is planning to release hundreds more.

Also, the New York City Board of Correction has directed officials to order the release of 2,000 people in custody city jails- those who are over 50, with health conditions such as lung and heart disease, people held for parole violations, or serving sentences of less than a year.

And if Weinstein has indeed contracted the virus, he possibly got it when he was in Rikers Island Jail, waiting to be transferred to Wende Correctional Facility. A majority of cases of incarcerated people and jail staff infected with coronavirus have been found in the Rikers complex.

So, it is not the celebration of the suffering of repeat offenders like Weinstein that needs our attention, but the immediate evacuation of those unprotected in the ineffective jail system of the United States of America.

harvey weinstein
Harvey Weinstein turns himself in to the New York Police Department's First Precinct after be served with criminal charges by the Manhattan District Attorney's office on May 25, 2018 in New York City. Kevin Hagen/Getty Images

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