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One Voice: The Impact of Coronavirus on Incarcerated People, their Families, and Their Communities.

INTRODUCTION

Coronavirus is here and it is not leaving any time soon. The Federal government has no unified strategy. The White House flippantly minimizes warnings that are issued by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the most credible member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. Actions by State and City governments range from negligible to extreme. Anxiety is in the air we breathe. The whole nation is at risk and everyone deserves a competent and compassionate response from our government. But there are layers of complexity that we should not ignore. The immediate and long-term consequences of COVID-19 will hit some people harder than others. All will feel a share of the encroaching peak of death and the plummeting economy that looms ahead. Sacrifices will have to be made. Congress is engaged in a process that requires a level of moral insight that the current administration does not usually display. This public statement began as a collective brainstorm on an urgent national conference call.  A diverse group of stakeholders and allies took part in that call, and we appreciate their care, concern, and contributions. This statement is one of several initiatives begun on that call. The aim of the statement is to exclusively frame these concerns from the perspective of incarcerated people, previously incarcerated people, and their families.

WHO WE ARE

We are not disinterested observers. We are not an amorphous group of faithful allies. We are not public officials who will be accountable if anything goes horribly wrong behind the walls of institutions of confinement. We are a widely diverse group of people who share an intimate relationship with incarceration. We know how confinement magnifies threats to human health and safety. We have been incarcerated. We are incarcerated. We are the daughters, sons, mothers, fathers, and family members of the incarcerated. We are tethered to the criminal legal system via electronic monitoring and other modes of surveillance that make keeping safe more complex. Our diversity includes gender identity, political persuasion, social ideology, race, ethnicity, immigration status, physical abilities, economic status, age, vocation, and religion. We are not a monolith. We are many. However, in this statement of concern about the need to address the specific threats that COVID-19 poses to our community, particularly those currently locked behind walls, bars, and razor wire:  We are one voice.

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CONCLUSION

We appreciate that many long-standing institutions and leaders have spoken out in ways that show some awareness of the specific issues that we face. However, we would like to take this opportunity to speak for ourselves. It is beneficial to all of us that there is an opening to raise these issues as priorities in the national conversation about the response to COVID-19. Most of the signatories on this statement have worked exclusively on this issue for decades and have served a cumulative number of years in jails and prisons that would stretch over centuries. We want nothing more than to be included as part of the solution because of our expertise which is derived from decades of study, service, and activism—not solely as a result of having been incarcerated. Your consideration is appreciated.

Please refer to the press release or the list of signatories to contact people affiliated with supporting organizations.

Respectfully,

ORGANIZATIONS

1982

A New Way of Life 

A.F.S.C.of Tucson, AZ 

All  Of Us or None/ Legal Services For Prisoners With Children

All of Us or None

All of Us or None, Central Illinois

All of US or None, Riverside

All Of Us Or None, Sacramento

All of Us or None, Texas 

All of Us or None, St. Louis 

Bard Prison Initiative 

Beauty after the Bars 

Butterfly Life Journeys, Inc.

CA Coalition for Women Prisoners

A link to the full statement can be found HERE along with a complete list of authors.

Please sign-on to the Public Statement on Coronavirus and Mass incarceration here https://forms.gle/SskjxKhv2k3ezAj8A