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.
Moreover, the ACLU released a report this week that the number of inmates in solitary jumped from 60,000 to nearly 300,000 in U.S. prisons. This is a 500 percent increase in the use of solitary compared to pre-pandemic levels. The largest contributor to the increase is the Federal Bureau of Prisons. According to the report the best way to protect incarcerated people is to significantly reduce prison and jail populations. Click here to read the report and its key findings.
Finally, this week’s New Yorker has a long expose of how an Arkansas prison abused prisoners while not really dealing with Covid-19.
While the nation’s attention is now focused on police brutality, it also time for the light to shine on the abusive conditions in our prisons and the effect these conditions have on those who are incarcerated.