Tues 3/24: “Cruel and unusual” – Law enforcement and punishment in a pandemic.

Quote by Dr. Ranit Mishori, a professor at Georgetown University School of Medicine and medical adviser to the group Physicians for Human Rights. “

Action #1 – Tell ICE to stop sucking up supplies of surgical masks needed for real emergencies.

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ICE has recently ordered 45,000 N95 surgical masks so that agents can be protected when they round up undocumented people, prior to putting them into jails where they will become vulnerable to COVID-19 infection. Nearly half of immigrants detained by ICE have been accused of no crime other than civil immigration violations, and many probably would not have been held under previous administrations. Rep. Omar stated “Immigration detention facilities, even before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, have been breeding grounds for illness. For detainees who are immunocompromised or otherwise susceptible to the worst consequences of contracting Covid-19, holding them in detention may be literally a matter of life or death.

Please contact Amanda Stought and ask her to reconsider her order and to ask ICE to stand down during until this pandemic is over.

Minimal script: Good [morning] Ms. Stought. You may have noticed the pandemic in the news, and the associated lack of PPE gear (personal protective equipment) for medical professionals and first responders. Please consider that none of the people your ICE officers arrest deserve a coronavirus death sentence. Keep your officers at home, safe with their families during this lockdown like everyone else and send all your N95 masks to hospitals where they’re desperately needed.

CONTACT: Email her at amanda.stought@ice.dhs.gov and/or leave her a call at 202-732-2544.

Action #2 – Release ALL non-violent offenders, including detained immigrants.

This video is 20 minutes long, but it’s provides a comprehensive view on how porous the barrier really is between correctional facilities and their surrounding communities.

We spend a lot of time debating the morality of capital punishment, even for the most horrific crimes, knowing that it’s disproportionately applied to the poor and minorities. “The death penalty is reserved for those who cannot buy themselves out of arrest, cannot afford legal representation, cannot afford a decent appeal, and carry no weight in the eyes of the government.” – Phillip Alston, UN expert on human rights.

But in the age of pandemic, even a minor crime, a misdemeanor border crossing or being unable to pay off a traffic ticket or a municipal fee can earn a defacto death sentence – being locked into a facility where a possibly fatal disease has free reign. New York City jails now have 38 people who’ve tested positive for COVID-19. More than 3,000 physicians have signed a letter urging ICE to release detainees while their legal cases proceed — particularly adults over 60 and people with serious chronic medical conditions that would put them at higher risk in the event of an outbreak. Hundreds of ICE agents and prison officers, medical personnel, contract workers, and others who work in these facilities are also at risk, along with their families.

Minimal script: Governor Newson, I am concerned about the possible effects of COVID-19 on our jail and prison populations. Crowded conditions can create a healthcare disaster that can overwhelm our nearby hospitals. Please direct the compassionate release of  undocumented residents of our communities, people awaiting trial who have no money for bail, and people whose offenses are non-violent and whose release does not present a public threat to our communities, along with a moratorium on arrests for issues like parole violations. This humanitarian gesture protects everyone who interacts with in our correctional system, as well as their families.

Contact: Governor Gavin Newsom: email(916) 445-2841 (Find contacts for other states here.)

What’s happening here so far:

  • Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is already releasing inmates with fewer than 30 days left on their sentences, trimming their population by 600 people.
  • Ventura County’s jail is simply disallowing “non-professional social” visits.
  • The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations (CDCR) has put out this response so far: “In response to questions surrounding calls for the early release of incarcerated persons, ….We are continuously implementing proactive measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 to keep our incarcerated population, and the community-at-large, safe. The department has made significant strides in reducing its overall inmate population, which allows us greater opportunities to evaluate existing resources, find innovative ways of providing patient care within our facilities, and to lessen the impact on our statewide public health care delivery system. Additional measures will continue to be developed based on the rapidly-evolving situation. Our top priority is the safety and security of the incarcerated population and the public.”

 

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