Governor Andrew Cuomo: Protect People from Coronavirus in Prisons, Jails, and Immigration Detention Centers

Governor Andrew Cuomo

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Justice Roadmap COVID-19 Demands

Over outcry from working people, people of color, frontline health care providers, and more, Governor Cuomo and the New York legislature passed an austerity budget that makes thousands of over-policed and under-resourced people even more vulnerable in the middle of a raging pandemic across New York. Thousands of people will now be subject to pretrial detention, as the COVID pandemic decimates people held in jails, prison, and immigration detention.

We have been demanding action for weeks, and people have died behind bars. Police are still arresting people, accelerating community spread when we should be doing everything we can to minimize contact with others.

Everyone who has already been infected, who will be infected, who will fall seriously ill, or even lose their lives cannot be erased. Governor Cuomo must use his powers to save lives. People are not disposable. No one deserves to die like this.

  • We demand the release of people from prisons and jails, starting with elderly people and people at high risk of death or severe illness from COVID-19. This includes ICE detainees who are incarcerated in local jails, and all people held on technical parole violations and in pretrial detention.

  • We demand that supplies and privileges are provided to people who must remain behind bars so that they can protect themselves from exposure to COVID-19.

  • We demand that phone calls are free so that people who no longer get visitors can stay in contact with loved ones.

  • We demand that torture in the form of solitary confinement is prohibited entirely, people in all forms of solitary are released, no one is sent to solitary for any reason, and no forms of solitary are used as a quarantine measure.

  • We demand a moratorium on collection of outstanding fines, fees, and court debt to reduce court appearances and the number of people in jail.

  • We demand that broken windows policing and sweeps, diversion, and targeting of homeless people is prohibited.

  • We demand that no one is ticketed, arrested, arraigned, or jailed for violating social distancing rules. This clearly defeats the purpose of preventing the coronavirus from spreading.

  • We demand that incarcerated people are paid minimum wage for the life saving work they are doing in producing hand sanitizer.

People behind bars in New York do not have what they need to survive this public health crisis. Time is running out so quickly. Sign the petition today.

Sponsored by

To: Governor Andrew Cuomo
From: [Your Name]

Governor Cuomo,

We implore you to take immediate action to protect the health of thousands of people in jails, prisons, and immigration detention in New York State. As of April 15, 664 DOCCS staff and 160 incarcerated individuals have tested positive for the disease. Five people have died. In New York City jails, over 600 staff and 300 inmates have coronavirus, and 9 people have died. Immigrants are held at local New York jails and isolated for weeks, with no public data on infections at these sites. 11 people held in immigration detention in Batavia have tested positive for coronavirus.

Meanwhile, police are still arresting people--including for social distancing reasons--which accelerates community spread. People are still forced to pay outstanding fines and fees and arrested for failing to do so. People in prison do not have the supplies and services they need to survive the crisis. Some of them are paid pennies to produce life-saving hand sanitizer. Prison visits are suspended and companies continue to extract fees from people desperate to communicate with loved ones electronically and by phone.

We have been demanding action for weeks, and people have died behind bars. Police are still arresting people, accelerating community spread when we should be doing everything we can to minimize contact with others.

Everyone who has already been infected, who will be infected, who will fall seriously ill, or even lose their lives cannot be erased. Governor Cuomo must use his powers to save lives. People are not disposable. No one deserves to die like this.

We demand the release of people from prisons and jails, starting with elderly people and people at high risk of death or severe illness from COVID-19. This includes ICE detainees who are incarcerated in local jails, and all people held on technical parole violations and in pretrial detention.

We demand that supplies and privileges are provided to people who must remain in prison so that they can protect themselves from exposure to COVID.

We demand that phone calls are free so people who no longer get visitors can stay in contact with loved ones.

We demand that torture in the form of solitary confinement is prohibited entirely, people in all forms of solitary are released, no one is sent to solitary for any reason, and no forms of solitary are used as a quarantine measure.

We demand a moratorium on the collection of outstanding fines, fees, and court debt to reduce court appearances and the number of people in jail.

We demand that broken windows policing and sweeps, diversion, and targeting of homeless people is prohibited.

We demand that no one is arrested, arraigned, or jailed for violating social distancing rules. This clearly defeats the purpose of preventing the coronavirus from spreading.

We demand that incarcerated people are paid minimum wage for the life-saving work they are doing in producing hand sanitizer.

People in prisons and jails in New York do not have what they need to survive this public health crisis. You must act and act quickly.