An inmate has died of COVID-19 after contracting the virus at Central Maryland Correctional Facility in Sykesville, his family says.
Jason McIntire died at Carroll Hospital at 43 years old on Monday, less than a week after being admitted to the hospital, according to his mother, Brenda Bowen.
Bowen of Ijamsville typically visited Jason once a week before the COVID-19 pandemic, and after that she would video chat with him. They spoke on May 11 and had planned to talk again May 13, but his call never came.
“It’s a big shock,” Bowen said.
Bowen said she contacted the correctional facility to inquire about her son’s health. Jason told her May 10 and 11 he wasn’t feeling well, so she was worried, she said. Prison staff told her that she needed to speak to the facility administrator, James Harris, but staff said he was not available to take her call.
Harris did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday. Nor did a spokesperson for the Sykesville facility.
Mark Vernarelli, a spokesperson for the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, which operates the facility, said in an email Tuesday that, “due to medical privacy laws,” the department does not comment on individual cases.
“For security reasons, the Department does not notify the family if an inmate is transported to an outside hospital for additional inpatient care,” Vernarelli said. However, “The hospital will notify the DPSCS regional medical director if the inmate has a threat of imminent death and resuscitate or do not resuscitate orders are required. At that point, the next of kin will be notified.”
It’s unclear whether that was done in McIntire’s case, but Bowen did hear from the hospital when his condition worsened.
After all options were exhausted at the hospital, Bowen said the family decided Monday to take Jason off life support. She said Jason was unresponsive and the doctor said his case was “as bad as it gets.”
The Carroll County Health Department on Tuesday afternoon confirmed a Central Maryland Correctional Facility inmate had died of the coronavirus.
Gerry McIntire, Jason’s father, said his son had been sentenced in a plea deal to one year for fourth-degree sexual contact and 10 years, with all but four suspended, for “solicit intimidate/influence juror.” He was served those sentences consecutively, with five years of supervised probation.
According to the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, a correctional officer at the Sykesville facility has also been diagnosed with COVID-19.
As of May 18, five inmates in Maryland’s correctional facilities have died due to coronavirus-related complications. Maryland prison officials confirmed Monday that an inmate in his 60s housed at the Patuxent Institution died due to the disease in recent days.
In all, 220 uniformed officers, 102 inmates and 13 nonuniformed staff have contracted the disease, according to the department.
Maryland’s Public Defender’s Office has also asked for all children in the state’s juvenile justice system to be tested for the disease after about 40 students and staff members at Silver Oak Academy in Keymar tested positive for COVID-19.
In April, the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services announced it released 2,000 inmates from its jails, prisons and other detention facilities to help stem the spread of the disease.
On May 14, Bowen got a call from someone at Carroll Hospital, asking for permission to perform a medical procedure on Jason. Bowen didn’t know Jason had been admitted Tuesday and had tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
After the hospital told Bowen that he had been admitted and diagnosed with COVID-19, she received a call from Harris, who told her what she already knew.
The hospital later told Bowen that the correctional facility had informed hospital employees they could not provide further information about her son’s health, she said. She still doesn’t understand why.
“Just because you can keep a family away doesn’t mean you should,” Bowen said.
Gerry McIntire said there was a lack of communication from the correctional facility.
“Very little was conveyed to me,” he said. “When he arrived he was very sick.”
Gerry, of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, and Bowen said Jason had made three requests for medical attention before he was admitted to the hospital.
Nancy McIntire, Jason’s stepmother who also lives in of Harpers Ferry, feels the correctional facility kept the family in the dark when Jason was in a coma and on a ventilator.
“The prison blocked the hospital from giving us any knowledge of anything,” she said. “He had no one to advocate for him medically.”
Gerry said it feels as if Jason was handed a life sentence.
Emma McIntire, Jason’s 14-year-old sister, said, “I know him, and he would definitely want other people not to go what he went through.”
Bowen described her son as someone who would help anybody. “A lot of people loved him,” she said, including three brothers he left behind.
“He was a very intelligent young man,” his father said. “His life went awry. He was doing his time.”
Baltimore Sun reporter Phil Davis contributed to this article.