Call Your Governor to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 in Jails and Prisons

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Detainees in Module I at the Theo Lacy Facility in Orange, California, on Tuesday, March 14, 2017 (Photo by Jeff Gritchen/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images)
We need governors to act immediately so that we can protect the lives of people who are currently incarcerated in prisons, jails and detention facilities across the country.  The Innocence Project has signed on to a letter issued by a coalition of organizations calling on governors to act immediately to help protect people in prisons and jails and the larger community. We ask you to call your governor by filling out the form above and you’ll be connected.

Below are a few of the most vulnerable people who need relief:

  • Prioritize the immediate release of the elderly and medically vulnerable, including individuals who are pregnant or who have asthma, chronic illness, lung disease, or heart disease.
  • Release anyone who is within 18 months of his/her release date.
  • Urge a hold to all new state prison sentences for anyone who is currently not detained.
  • Release all people held on probation and parole technical violation detainers or sentences. Ensure no new jail or prison sentences based on technical violations.
  • Ensure that all people released from prison have a transition plan that includes seamless access to medical care and health-related services.
  • Ask parole boards to release all individuals who are currently on parole and develop an emergency process that can expedite parole hearings.
  • Create a framework that facilitates the expedient release of as many incarcerated individuals as possible.

ACLU OF ALABAMA CALLS ON LEADERS TO MAKE PRISONS TOP PRIORITY IN COVID-19 RESPONSE

Montgomery, Ala. — Close to 22,000 Alabamians incarcerated by the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) face a much higher risk of contracting coronavirus than the general public, but there’s been no mention of plans to ensure their safety and well-being. Last week Governor Kay Ivey announced the formation of a Coronavirus Task Force, and the ACLU of Alabama urges the group to prioritize plans for Alabama prisons, which were already experiencing a sustained overcrowding and understaffing crisis before the pandemic.

Statement from Randall Marshall, Executive Director, ACLU of Alabama:

“Incarcerated people cannot follow the CDC recommendation of social distancing, and because Alabama prisons are already operating at 170 percent of their designed capacity, these men and women are at an increased risk of exposure and contamination in the prison population. Furthermore, with over 20 percent of people in ADOC custody over the age of 50, there are thousands who are at higher risk of serious health complications or death if they are infected.

It is imperative that the Governor and ADOC release their plans to prevent the spread of COVID-19 inside the prisons, to quarantine and care for any prisoner who shows symptoms, and to ensure all supplies and food remain stocked during this crisis. They must also address how they plan to provide continued staffing in the event of staff shortages due to illness or caring for an ill family member. ADOC staffing is currently at 40 percent.

These and other questions must be answered now. Alabama leaders have historically disregarded the health and safety of the men and women incarcerated in state prisons. The ACLU of Alabama urges state leaders to not follow that old pattern and make prisons a top priority in Alabama’s COVID-19 response.”

Please sign the petition here calling for President Trump and all state governors to heed the recommendations of public health professionals: Release communities who are most vulnerable to COVID-19 – particularly the elderly and sick – and reduce overcrowding in our criminal legal system.