Release Vulnerable Prisoners, Save Lives

Maria Eva Dorigo
Published: 05/19/2020

According to ACLU NJ, New Jersey has the highest rate of prison deaths in the country, more than NY, CT, PA and MA combined. 544 prisoners, 600 correctional officers tested positive and 42 prisoners died. There are only 5 states (OH, TN, AR, MI, NC) that are massively testing the correctional employees and prisoners and those states are finding out that they have a dangerously high number of infected people in prisons and jails.

A article on May 13 states “if prisoners died before they were tested for coronavirus, it was up to state and county medical examiners to decide whether to test them.” Several families whose incarcerated family member has died are still waiting for an official cause of death, according to this article. The UN and WHO recommended to decarcerate to avoid the spread of the virus in prisons, where no social distancing is possible. Gov. Murphy has ordered the release of prisoners as well.

According to a statistical report from Prison Policy Initiative from May 1st, 2020 many counties around the country have been reducing their prison population in their county’s jails drastically. Bergen County Jail made it to the list having release only 170 prisoners of its 573 prior to the coronavirus crisis. No action means that we are imposing a death sentences to thousands of people who are held in our jails and immigration detention centers for low level crimes or no crimes like the migrants. Covid-19 has arrived at NJ prisons and the spread can only be stopped or minimized by releasing prisoners.

Gov. Murphy has the power to provide pardons to prisoners who are at the end of their sentence, for non-violent crimes, the elderly, or the pregnant women. Forty-two prisoners have died already but Gov. Murphy has not talked about their lives during his daily COVID-19 briefings.

Topics: COVID-19Criminal Justice ReformICEImmigrationJail ReformPhil MurphyBergen County, NJ