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Volunteers release balloons outside Florence McClure Women's Correctional Facility as part of the Balloons Over NDOC event on Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020. (Daniel Clark/The Nevada Independent)

Family and friends of incarcerated people gathered outside prisons around Nevada on Christmas Eve to release balloons, hoping to show support at a distance to loved ones inside who they’ve been barred from visiting in person for 10 months.

Outside of Florence McClure Women’s Correctional Center in Las Vegas on Thursday, volunteers with the nonprofit LEAFE, which supports formerly incarcerated people, unleashed a rainbow of balloons into the overcast sky. Among them was Julia Jarrell, who had been incarcerated herself for 13 years.

In the last two months, the state’s prisons have become a hotspot for COVID-19, prompting outcry from family members and calls for early releases for vulnerable inmates. As of Thursday, there were 3,421 cases and 10 deaths among staff and inmates. About 24 percent of inmates and 31 percent of staff have had the virus.

Prison officials have tried to contain the virus by suspending in-person visitation at the facilities since early this year,

The Nevada Independent photographer Daniel Clark visited the women’s prison to capture images of the display.

Lakeysa Summerset, left, and Sheena Cloutier of LEAFE Community inflate balloons outside Florence McClure Women's Correctional Facility as part of the Balloons Over NDOC event on Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020. (Daniel Clark/The Nevada Independent)
Volunteers release balloons outside Florence McClure Women's Correctional Facility as part of the Balloons Over NDOC event on Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020. (Daniel Clark/The Nevada Independent)
Volunteers release balloons outside Florence McClure Women's Correctional Facility as part of the Balloons Over NDOC event on Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020. (Daniel Clark/The Nevada Independent)
Julia Jarrell, left, and Natalie Dubisson, who are formerly incarcerated women, watch as balloons float into the sky outside Florence McClure Women's Correctional Facility as part of the Balloons one NDOC event on Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020. (Daniel Clark/The Nevada Independent)
Sheena Cloutier pushes balloons from the back of a truck outside Florence McClure Women's Correctional Facility as part of the Balloons Over NDOC event on Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020. (Daniel Clark/The Nevada Independent)
Volunteers release balloons outside Florence McClure Women's Correctional Facility as part of the Balloons Over NDOC event on Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020. (Daniel Clark/The Nevada Independent)
Julia Jarrell, who was incarcerated for thirteen years, watches as balloons float into the sky outside Florence McClure Women's Correctional Facility as part of the Balloons Over NDOC event on Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020. (Daniel Clark/The Nevada Independent)
Volunteers release balloons outside Florence McClure Women's Correctional Facility as part of the Balloons Over NDOC event on Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020. (Daniel Clark/The Nevada Independent)

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