Update from the Frontline of COVID-19:
All of us are looking straight into the maw of death. Don’t be confused. We have not dodged this freight train.
Stalking the crowded halls of prison, the disease is on the move, gaining force by the hour. Every day counts. Judges, politicians, and prison hacks are either going to act with sufficient moral courage or they will face the wrath of accountability of those they are condemning to die — guards, prisoners, prison staff, family members, and people in nearby communities.
The notion of nibbling around the edges of the problem, of turning the key in a prison door and releasing just 1%, 2%, or 3% of the prison population, is insane.
Those in power recognize that releasing fully half of the prison population or more is an immediate public health imperative. Yet they continue to promote the fiction that mass incarceration makes
us safer. The carceral state has put our family members in cages. Now it wants to take their very lives.
Jordan Mazurek’s creative and inspired direct action outside Ron DeSantis Florida Governor’s Mansion, in Tallahassee (credit: Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons).
Based on the simple math of the virus, failing to release hundreds of thousands of people (who should not have been there in the first place) means literally thousands of death sentences. You won’t be able to cover up the body bags. You won’t be able to stop the stench of the cremations.
Your future, our future, every working-class person’s future depends on decarceration. And we are not talking about tomorrow. We are talking about right now.
Some governors, like PA’s Tom Wolf, are using their power for releases, but the numbers are so low they don’t even rank as a token measure.
The guards remain at risk. The prisoners even more so. Every community member in every state prison town is at risk.
Current small, piecemeal efforts focus on select inmates serving time for “nonviolent” crimes and who are scheduled to be released within the next year. State legislatures are ignoring science and public safety, instead of relying on the same discredited rhetoric that created the mass incarceration nightmare in the first place, the assembly line of black and brown bodies.
We must demand that governors like Tom Wolf expand their reprieve powers to release tens of thousands of inmates to save lives.