The Indiana NLG sent this letter to Gov. Holcomb urging him to release prisoners vulnerable to COVID-19.
The letter states: “According to the Indiana Department of Correction, more than 200 prisoners across the state are infected with the novel coronavirus. At least three prisoners have already died. More than 80 correctional employees have tested positive. There is currently an outbreak of more than 100 cases among prisoners at one northern Indiana prison alone… The DOC has stonewalled the public and the press and, in a statement, told the families and loved ones of prisoners simply to ‘remember that there are still reasons to feel hopeful and things to be grateful for even during this difficult time.’ Further, all in-prison medical care continues to be managed by a for-profit corporation, Wexford of Indiana LLC, the local division of Wexford Health Sources, Inc. Neither the department of correction nor this for-profit corporation has sufficiently explained how the state will provide adequate medical care to prisoners and protect them from the known dangers of the pandemic.”
Read the chapter’s full letter to Gov. Holcomb here, and read local coverage in the IndyStar here.
NLG Seattle filed a joint amicus brief with with Washington Defender Association and Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in support of prisoner furlough requests given the pandemic:
“The impact of COVID-19 within DOC will fall disproportionately on those who have already suffered from detrimental results of historic and ongoing discrimination. In other words, those who will suffer the most through DOC’s inaction will be those same people already vulnerable to other poor outcomes due to society’s failures to provide equity…
Respondents completely fail to consider that this history of inequity particularly in sentencing people to prison and to longer (and lifelong) prison sentences is a direct outcome of our historic social behavior of casting entire communities aside to society’s margins, in favor of social and economic systems designed for other people’s success. Respondents seek to justify their inhumane treatment by deciding that people in prison from certain communities are unworthy of the same medical protections and care as everybody else who is not in prison.”
Our friends at the Chicago Community Bond Fund, including NLG Chicago member Sharlyn Grace, was featured in this Newsweek article on CCBF’s work during the COVID-19 pandemic:
“People inside the jail are not a separate group,” Grace said. “They are part of our community, and their well-being and our well-being are tied up together in this public health crisis.”