America's Legal System Will Not Free African Americans from Louisiana's Death Chambers
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1. Government reports on what is happening in Louisiana detention centers, jails, and prisons are inconsistent with what people confined in those facilities are telling their family members. So at this point, the government reports are unreliable, and we have reason to believe that everyone incarcerated in the State of Louisiana is at risk of dying from COVID-19 infections, and that means thousands of Black people may get sick or die in captivity;
2. The U.S. Constitution and international human rights treaties that are part of America’s federal law have a lot of fancy ways of making this point and that is: The punishment should fit the crime. Louisiana officials talking public safety outside that parameter – outside of keeping crime and punishment in proportion . . . when they go beyond those dynamics, they’re flirting with genocide;
3. This is not an episode of Gray’s Anatomy. Governors and Wardens are not empowered to choose one life versus another. In the context of an epidemic or pandemic, their comparison should be limited to crimes and punishments that may include exposure to a deadly virus. When that price is too high to pay given the circumstances of a person’s incarceration, he or she should be released under appropriate terms;
4. What we have now are people confined because the tough on crime folks don’t want them released. And, in recent history, not a single branch of U.S. government has upset their apple cart;
5. The UN Human Rights Committee encouraged the Trump Administration to meet with Opt IN USA and other civil society groups about such dilemmas before average Americans even knew of a COVID-19 pandemic. Opt IN USA’s basic complaint is that America’s legal system is regularly weaponized against Black people and anybody else it wants to take down. On January 18, 2020, a coalition of 20 organizations joined in requesting the Trump Administration/Opt IN USA meeting, so far to no avail;
6. Louisiana United International, Inc. (LUI) is among those 20 organizations. It is also leading the fight against the COVID-19 Death Chambers that Louisiana's detention centers, jails, and prisons have become. The Trump Administration should meet immediately with LUI as part of an Opt IN USA delegation. The lives of many Black people incarcerated in Louisiana are at stake. Time is of essence.
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