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Shoplifter Gets 1-Year Prison Sentence; Dies in the Middle of a Pandemic

Ricardo Williamson was 62-years-old with at least three chronic medical conditions when he went to state prison in January to serve a one-year sentence for shoplifting.

He died there last Sunday, in the middle of a pandemic, records show.

It’s unclear what killed Williamson, who had a history of drug addiction and a lengthy record of more than 40 convictions for shoplifting and other minor crimes. State corrections officials declined to confirm his cause of death, citing medical privacy rules.

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“I don’t know for sure that he died from COVID-19,” said Judith Fallon, a deputy public defender in Passaic County, whose office represented Williamson.

“But I do know for sure that he shouldn’t have died in prison.”

An NJ Advance Media investigation published earlier this week found New Jersey’s prison system was ill-prepared to deal with the coronavirus crisis, taking weeks to implement basic prevention methods like giving inmates masks and hand sanitizer…

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