• COVID-19: Los Angeles Must Immediately Release People from the County Jails!
    We are not alone in recognizing this crisis of criminalization and incarceration here in Los Angeles and how COVID19 will exacerbate that crisis. Last week, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved the recommendations outlined in the Alternatives to Incarceration Working Group’s historic and unprecedented report, “Care First, Jails Last: Health and Racial Justice Strategies for Safer Communities.” Shortly thereafter, Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas published a letter outlining his concerns about COVID19’s spreads to the LA jails and calling for a reduction in jail bookings, early release, plans for quarantine and treatment, concerted efforts to reduce virus transmission and a plan for expected staffing shortages. We are also not alone in calling for significant and timely steps towards decarceration. On Saturday, March 14, Judges from the Cleveland, Ohio’s Cuyahoga County Court announced their intention to seek the release of hundreds of people incarcerated in their county jails. Like us, these judges recognize that jails pose threats to our larger community and the incarcerated people themselves. On Tuesday, March 17, the New York City Board of Corrections, the independent oversight Board for the city’s jail system, issued a call for incarcerated people at high risk to be immediately released and for the overall jail population to be rapidly and drastically reduced. Also on Tuesday, March 17, thirty one elected prosecutors from around the country, but not from Los Angeles, published a letter advocating that counties “implement concrete steps in the near-term to dramatically reduce the number of incarcerated individuals” to prevent the potentially “catastrophic” spread of COVID19. We also join epidemiologists in warning that it is not a matter of if COVID19 enters your facility -- but when. For these reasons, we demand that you, as correctional health care leaders, do your part. We ask that you: 1) Prepare a list of your incarcerated patients who are most medically vulnerable and who require immediate release. We demand that you prepare that list within one week, notify the public that the list has been made available to correctional authorities, the courts and city/state leaders, and advocate for their early release with linkages to housing and healthcare services. 2) Use the legal authority granted to you to declare COVDI19 a liable danger to those currently held in the county jails and advocate for their immediate release to safe and meaningful housing. 3) Identify, coordinate and provide the services incarcerated people need upon their release (e.g. HIV care for those who are HIV+, substance use treatment centers for those with substance use disorders, homes and shelters for those who are houseless, etc) to ensure their ongoing protection from this epidemic. The County should use the recently approved recommendations from the Alternatives to Incarceration Working Group to build infrastructure that addresses and also outlives this emergency to achieve our shared goal of reducing the jail population.
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    Created by Mark-Anthony Clayton-Johnson
  • Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 by Decarcerating Mecklenburg
    Dear local leaders: As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread, we – a coalition of concerned organizations, attorneys, and community members – urge you to undertake all possible measures to prevent the spread of infection in Mecklenburg County’s jails. An outbreak of COVID-19 in the jails would be swift and deadly, and it would overwhelm the county’s hospitals and health system. The next week is crucial to limiting COVID-19’s spread. Now is the time for decisive emergency measures to save lives. COVID-19 poses severe risks whenever people are in close physical proximity with others, regardless of whether an individual has shown symptoms of infection. People in jail are unable to distance themselves from others and take the preventative measures that are necessary to prevent infection and protect the population. Worse, jails are particularly vulnerable to outbreaks because the underlying health conditions that can cause infection or exacerbate harm are very prevalent among incarcerated people. This will make the spread of COVID-19 inside jails fast and lethal, threatening everyone incarcerated in a jail, along with their loved ones, jail staff, and the state’s public health infrastructure at large. The safest way to ensure that the jail does not become a vector for COVID-19’s spread is to cut the jail population and halt new admissions. This is particularly imperative for anyone who a judge has already approved for release pending payment of money bail; anyone detained under an ICE hold; and anyone detained for a Failure to Appear or parole/probation violations. Release is also crucial for those who are elderly or have medical conditions that make them particularly vulnerable. In contrast to reducing jail populations, restrictive measures such as segregation and lockdowns will not contain infection. In a county jail, people are incarcerated for a relatively short period of time before returning to the outside community, and every day new people are booked into the facility if law enforcement continue making arrests. Jail staff necessarily come and go everyday as well, returning to their families and communities. This constant turnover will compromise any effort to contain COVID-19, especially since people may be infected and contagious but not show symptoms. Restrictive measures inside could also discourage incarcerated people from reporting symptoms or seeking care, which will multiply infection. Reducing the jail population is consistent with the county sheriff’s obligation to safely manage county jail populations and the guidance of correctional experts. Dr. Marc Stern, who served as Health Services Director for Washington State’s Department of Corrections, recently urged: “With a smaller population, prisons, jails, and detention centers can help diseases spread less quickly by allowing people to better maintain social distance.” Dr. Stern also explained that reducing the jail population will ease staffing burdens: “If staff cannot come to work because they are infected, a smaller population poses less of a security risk for remaining staff.” Jurisdictions across the country have already started taking the important public health measure of reducing their jail population. The Bail Project has worked to provide free bail assistance to people detained pretrial in the Mecklenburg County Jail. Since its tenure in Charlotte began in August 2019, the organization has posted bail for over 200 people, of which more than 90% then returned to court without any need for detention, even though their bail amount would otherwise have kept them incarcerated. We know from this experience that reducing the jail population to protect public health will be safe, lawful, and just. Every time the county introduces another person to the jail environment, there is a risk of worsening the spread of COVID-19 among the incarcerated population, jail staff, and the broader community. We urge you to undertake all possible avenues for limiting that peril and preventing deaths across the community. Signed, The ACLU of NC Global Missions of the A.M.E. Zion Church The Bail Project Beauty After the Bars Black Treatment Advocates Network (BTAN Charlotte) Project BOLT Charlotte Uprising Comunidad Colectiva Mecklenburg County Public Defender’s Office Poor No More Racial Justice Engagement Group of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte Southeast Asian Coalition Court Support Services Team TRU BLUE
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    Created by Decarcerate Mecklenburg
  • Demand Gov. Cuomo Free Criminalized Survivors of Gender Violence
    Valerie Seeley is a survivor of domestic violence and in 1988 she was sentenced to 19 years to life in prison for killing her abusive partner while defending herself from a violent attack. In 2017, Valerie was granted clemency and released from Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in Westchester County, New York. Her release came after spending 17 years in prison for protecting herself. Governor Cuomo, like all state governors, has the power to grant clemency to people who have been convicted under state law. Valerie is the ONLY domestic violence survivor that has been granted clemency by Gov. Cuomo. In the last eight years Gov. Cuomo has ONLY commuted 12 sentences in total. Survived & Punished, has joined forces with Color Of Change to demand that Gov. Cuomo free all criminalized survivors of gender violence. In New York state history only three survivors have been granted clemency. Gov. Cuomo has the power to change that immediately. Today, there are many people behind bars in NY state prisons simply for fighting to survive. We must protect, not criminalize survivors of domestic and gender based violence. Women and gender nonconforming (GNC) folks have historically been incarcerated for domestic violence and Black women and GNC survivors of abuse are rarely granted the right to protect and defend themselves against their abuser, even less than other people. Throughout the country millions of women, girls and GNC people who are incarcerated are also survivors of domestic/ gender based violence. We must end the criminalization of survivors, we must protect Black women and we must free all people incarcerated for simply surviving. Demand Gov. Cuomo #FreeThemNY. Learn more about #FreeThemNY--http://freethemny.com/
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    Created by Mariame Kaba
  • Black Mamas Matter! Demand Justice for Crystle Galloway.
    We're the parents of Crystle Galloway. Help us get justice for our daughter, Crystle. The paramedics have their disciplinary hearing this upcoming Tuesday, July 31st. Let Fire Rescue and Hillsborough County know that they should be fired. We also hope they take steps to make sure this doesn't ever happen again to anyone. Our daughter's life is worth more than them being suspended -- Crystle might have been with us and with her two daughters and her baby son now if they had treated her like any other person. She died leaving behind a newborn after paramedics failed to give her standard care and take her in an ambulance. She was suffering complications after just giving birth. But after calling 911, she didn't get the medical help she should have had. The paramedics failed to check her vital signs. Later, they even falsified what happened by logging the call using a code meaning "Non-transport/no patient found". They should be fired, not just suspended. Our daughter had just given birth and was having complications just days after. My 7 year old granddaughter found her unconscious, slumped over. When we called 911, the paramedics didn't want to take her because they "thought we couldn't afford it". They didn't even ask if we had insurance (which we do). This is racism. When the paramedics came, they took one look at our skin color and decided they didn't want to touch her. We had to rush her ourselves but it was too late. They didn't think she looked "critical". What color do we have to be to get help? https://www.tampabay.com/news/publicsafety/Hillsborough-suspends-four-paramedics-in-treatment-of-stroke-victim-30-who-later-died_170253710
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    Created by Lisa Black
  • Stop Children from Dying During Divorce and Custody Proceedings
    A mother who is a veteran had to return home from Iraq and fight the battle for her children. The children were taken from her safe and sustainable home, and 50/50 custody order. The mother was falsely arrested. The charges where dismissed but the ramification lingered. Nine years later the mother and her children have no relationship. The children were forced to live full-time with their abusive father leaving them vulnerable to mental, physical and emotional abuse at critical developmental stages in there lives. The court's decision has traumatized the mother and placed the children in danger. As of September 24, 2018, at least 657 children have been murdered by a parent involved in a divorce, separation, custody, visitation, or child support situation in the U.S. since 2008. Abusive parents are often granted custody or unprotected parenting time by family courts—placing our nation’s children at ongoing risk. Researchers who interviewed judges and court administrators following some of these tragedies found that most believed these were isolated incidents. Needed reforms have not been implemented. Many court-related child homicides occurred after family courts granted dangerous parents access to children over the objections of a protective parent. We recognize that the women's right's movement is still a work in progress. Marginalized women face multiple oppressions, and we can only win freedom by bringing awareness on how they impact one another. The women of color need a national movement to uplift the needs of the most marginalized women and children. As women of color we need to stand for our human rights to parent the children we have in a safe and sustainable community.
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    Created by Mother's Standing For Children Picture