The Need to Reduce People in Detention Centers is Urgent
It’s happening right now. Maryland officials have just confirmed that COVID-19 has made its way into Maryland prisons, with three cases. The cases are in the Baltimore and Jessup correctional facilities — two of them are non-correctional contract employees and one person in prison. It is now more urgent than ever to start reducing the number of people in jails and prisons to protect us all.
Public health experts have been sounding the alarm, telling public officials that the most critical thing we must do to mitigate the pressure on our medical system is to significantly reduce the numbers of people in detention to minimize spread of the virus.
The slower we are to act, the worse of a crisis we are creating. People in detention are not able to take the same measures as the rest of us. These three new cases are just the beginning of a terrible public health crisis in our prison and jail systems. The coronavirus thrives in large communities that are in close contact and in environments that are not the most sanitary. Basically, the kinds of conditions in our prisons and jails. Reducing detention populations gets people out of harm’s way and allows facilities to better manage the people who remain. Failing to do so puts many people at risk.
The lack of action in Maryland to avoid the spread of virus through our places of detention is in stark contrast to the extreme measures being taken in virtually every other respect. Limiting groups in Maryland to 10 people and issuing a stay at home directive are vital actions to take to protect the community. We applaud Governor Hogan for them, but we cannot wait a moment longer to address the crisis looming in our prisons and jails.
To stop the spread of coronavirus, the number of people in detention of all kinds needs to be dramatically reduced — whether kids, the elderly, immigrants, people who can’t afford bail, or others. A large coalition is also pleading with Governor Hogan to act. Start reducing the detention populations. Begin with people who are at risk for grave illness or death, those who are deemed safe to return back to the community, and those with short sentences or sentences that are close to ending. Our public health experts are telling us these are the measures needed to save lives.
TAKE ACTION: Tell Governor Hogan to show compassion and follow leading public health experts’ cautionary advice to avoid a public health disaster for Marylanders’ in detention. Share the posts below on Facebook and Twitter.