WASHINGTON, DC — Criminal justice and immigration advocates are urging government officials to consider people who are incarcerated a vulnerable population amid the COVID-19 Crisis. FWD.us President Todd Schulte issued the following statement:
“As our nation works to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, our government leaders must take bold actions to protect people currently incarcerated in our jails, prisons, and immigration detention facilities, as they are one of our most vulnerable populations. People locked up in America’s jails and prisons generally have increased underlying chronic health issues, are unable to access even the most basic medical care, and cannot practice social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus. And, it’s no secret that most jails and prisons have struggled to meet very basic hygiene standards.
“Making matters worse, states have relied on extreme sentencing for decades resulting in an increasing elderly population in prisons, a population we know is among some of the most vulnerable to the virus.
“Now, more than ever, governors, legislators, judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement must take immediate action to address the incarceration crisis that has become even more dire in the face of COVID-19. Criminal justice system officials should take immediate action to advance policies that both drastically curtail the number of people entering facilities and expand the number of people released from them. These policies should include reductions in arrest, charging, and sentencing and expansions in pretrial release, parole, commutations, and clemency. Further, immigration officials should dramatically reduce the population currently detained starting with, but not limited to, families, children, and people with pending asylum claims or credible fear determinations.
“FWD.us will continue to monitor this health emergency that places people who are incarcerated acutely at risk and will be calling on lawmakers and officials everywhere to take immediate actions.”