June 17, 2020
Recently, IAHR received a letter from a person who was incarcerated in a Virginia prison but was subsequently transferred to a Florida prison. In the letter she states how the Florida prison isolated her and some other prisoners by placing them in a garage! Here is a quote from the note we received:
“so we are supposively moving out of the garage this week. but everyday they feed us peanut butter and jelly, and Bologna and cheese. we only get 1 hot meal a day, breakfast which is coffy cake and cold oatmeal. oh they spaced us out so we are social distanced 1 feet apart Cruz they moved the 1st 2 rolls of people on the other side of the garage.. we hang our clothes on the wall with paperclips and we're straight living out of bags. we have a boat for our matress but were sleeping on the Floor. no bull-shit its crazy. We’ll know today if the quarantine is lifted, I will keep u posted.”
This is another deplorable example of how prison authorities are dealing or rather not dealing with the threat of Covid-19: prisoners forced to sleep on the floor, given inadequate meals, and not really being able to distance themselves from each other.
In today’s New York Times, there is a news article on the spread of Covid-19 throughout the nation’s prisons. The Times reports: Cases of the coronavirus in prisons and jails across the United States have soared in recent weeks, even as the overall daily infection rate in the nation has remained relatively flat. The number of prison inmates known to be infected has doubled during the past month to more than 68,000. Prison deaths tied to the coronavirus have also risen, by 73 percent since mid-May. By now, the five largest known clusters of the virus in the United States are not at nursing homes or meatpacking plants, but inside correction institutions, according to data The New York Times has been collecting about confirmed coronavirus cases since the pandemic reached American shores.Read more
June 12, 2020
I urge everyone to read Gay Gardner’s letter in today’s Washington Post. Click here for the link.
In her letter, Gay hopes that wide spread use of police cameras and civilian cameras will lead to greater accountability among law enforcement officers. She points out, however, that in state prisons and local jails the cameras are rolling all the time. Yet, over and over again prison authorities never allow inmates, their families, advocates, or the public to view them. Too often prisoners suffer terrible abuse but with little recourse to hold correctional officers accountable. It is time for correction officials to let the public view the video footage when there are allegations of abuse at the hands of corrections officers.
June 11, 2020
The Marshall Report notes that a federal appeals court overturned a trial judge’s order to release medically vulnerable people from FCI Elkton, a federal prison in Ohio. FCI Elkton, is located in Lisbon Ohio which is approximately 90 miles from Cleveland and 60 miles from Pittsburgh. The facility incarcerates a total of 2274 men. Covid-19 has hit Elkton very hard. According to the Bureau of Prisons website, 438 men have active cases as well as 7 staff people. According to FOX19NOW.com, a Cleveland TV station, 523 inmates (approximately 25% of the total) have tested positive for Covid-19. At least 9 people have died at Elkton from the virus. In April, soldiers from the Ohio National Guard spent several weeks on a medical mission at the prison. The soldiers helped treat and transport the seriously ill patients.
I am starting a blog post on the IAHR website to share my thoughts about the current protests over police violence and the endemic racism in our society. I plan to relate the current events to conditions of confinement in U.S. prisons and jails. The protests which have followed the killing of George Floyd have understandably focused on police violence directed against people of color, especially African-American men.Read more