URGENT Okahoma DOC: Certify Medical Parole NOW
This petition had 1,001 supporters
**SIGNATURES WILL BE TURNED IN FRIDAY, MAY 15TH, PLEASE SIGN AND SHARE BEFORE THEN!**
Dear Director Crow and Dr. McCurdy,
We ask that you IMMEDIATELY create a list comprised of the following groups in custody and certify the following groups of inmates for Medical Parole:
-Pregnant women with non-violent/non-domestic charges
-Those who over 60 with non-violent/non-domestic charges
-Those with severe medical conditions that compromise their immune systems who have non-violent/non-domestic charges
-Those eligible for release in the next 30 days-6 months who have non-violent/non-domestic charges
-Those facing detainers to other states or to ICE
We are a group of concerned Oklahomans who have been following the Pardon and Parole Board’s response to COVID-19 since March 31st. Our petition to the Board garnered 3,500 signatures in six days. That petition is available at change.org/flattenovercrowding.
While no one could have predicted the circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak, the ways in which our society responds will be remembered forever. Perhaps it is not fair to ask two individuals to carry the burden of this decades-long over-incarceration epidemic that has now become a public health disaster. But we have come to you because we have faith in you that you can and will do the right thing.
On Monday April 13th, 2020, the Pardon and Parole Board met virtually. The Board and Director Bickley discussed utilizing Medical Parole (provided in 57 O.S. 332.18) to reduce the prison population in light of the threat COVID-19 poses in prison settings. The statute states that, “The Director of the Department of Corrections shall have the authority to request the Executive Director of the Pardon and Parole Board to place an inmate on the Pardon and Parole Board docket for a medical reason, out of the normal processing procedures.” The risk of contracting COVID-19 in a carceral setting is a valid medical reason to allow medical parole for an expanded group of inmates.
As of today, April 14th, 2020, COVID-19 has entered the American jail & prison systems at an alarming rate. Currently, Cook County Jail in Chicago is the largest epicenter of cases in the U.S. One case in an Arkansas Prison translated to 43 positive cases that were largely asymptomatic virtually overnight.
With the swiftness of COVID-19’s viral transmission and the conditions of most Oklahoma prison facilities, a lack of action from the leaders of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections will translate to a humanitarian & constitutional crisis as well as preventable loss of life.
As you know, Oklahoma has one of the highest incarcerated populations in the world. Our state facilities are at 108% capacity on average. Those whose family members are incarcerated are reporting extremely variant conditions across the state in regards to how different facilities are handling their response to the virus. These facts make the threat from COVID-19 even more acute in Oklahoma. Many other states have acted swiftly to reduce their risk of massive spread inside state prisons.
Director Bickley of the Pardon and Parole Board has said he will hold an emergency docket for people placed on medical parole. We ask that you move as fast as possible to make this happen. It is not only the inmates’ lives at risk, but also those who work in your facilities, and the people who live in rural towns where most facilities are located. An outbreak in a DOC facility could overwhelm frontline healthcare workers and critical health infrastructure across the state.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter and to your dedication to keeping inmates and their health as protected as possible during this time.
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