Governor Ducey & Director Shinn: Don’t Let Our Loved One’s Die in Jail!

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Dear Governor Ducey, ADOCRR Director Shinn, Ice Field Director Lucero, Juvenile Director Hood & Sheriff Penzone

The state of Arizona is on the verge of shutting down as a response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. In the past weeks, we have seen what an unforeseen crisis can do to our community. As a Human Rights organization, we acknowledge that in times of crisis our communities who are most vulnerable are often forgotten about. 

Incarcerated people are part of our community, regardless of accusation or conviction. We love, care for, and are concerned about them. They are our family and community members. Their health and well-being have a direct impact on our collective health, we must advocate for the rights of everyone; this includes those of us behind walls. If the outbreak continues to spread, our brothers and sisters held captive will suffer the continued medical neglect and risk severe illness, and even death. The COVID-19 virus does not discriminate against previous convictions or legal status. Our local government should not decide who gets to receive services and support and who does not.

INCARCERATION IS NOT A PUBLIC HEALTHCARE SOLUTION

Within state prisons, local jails, and detention centers, we demand: 

 1.The release of our loved ones
 2. Safe conditions of confinement  
 3. Quality healthcare                    

                                                                                  
1.Release of our loved ones:

  • Use all available powers, including executive clemency, to let people, particularly vulnerable (older people, those with chronic illnesses, pregnant people, those with asthma, cancer, heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes etc) go home to the care of their families by commuting their sentence.
  • Release and stop jailing anyone charged with an offense that does not involve a risk of serious physical injury to a reasonably identifiable person. This includes technical violations of parole or probation, regardless of the underlying offense, including failures to appear.
  • Release all people detained in ICE facilities in Arizona, giving priority to people who are LGBTQ+, over 50 years old, or have chronic conditions.
  • Require the Executive Board of Clemency expedite the release of those who are currently awaiting violation hearings and parole hearings.


2.Safe conditions of confinement:

  • There must be ready access to warm water and adequate hygiene supplies (soap, masks, etc.) for all prisoners, including indigent prisoners, both for frequent handwashing and for cleaning. Prisons and jails should temporarily allow alcohol-based hand sanitizer to be used by prisoners, and hand sanitizer should be readily available in common areas of each prison and jail.
  • Regardless of how many prison staff stay home because they are sick, the prisons will have to continue functioning. There must be a plan for how necessary functions and services will continue if large numbers of staff are out with the virus. 
  • At no point should any facility be on lockdown. Ensure families and lawyers have access to regular communications channels with incarcerated loved ones or clients, including but not limited to phone calls, email, video conferencing, postage mail.


3.Quality healthcare:

  • Release incarcerated people who test positive to an external healthcare facility to receive care.
  • Do not use extended solitary confinement as a substitution for providing people in prison who are exposed to COVID-19 with proper medical care. 
  • Provide additional precautions for those who are at high risk of serious illness, such as pregnant people and people with chronic illnesses, compromised immune systems, or disabilities, and people whose housing placements restrict their access to medical care and limit the staff’s ability to observe them. 

All residents of our community have the right to be safe and protected. Don’t let our family members die in jail, release them now!