Close Quarantanamo Bay!

Governor Phil Murphy

South Woods State Prison is a men's facility located in Bridgeton, New Jersey, with a reputation for abuse and illegal retaliation against inmates. Since the governor put through his emergency orders relating to the COVID pandemic, things have only gotten worse. The prison has established a "quarantine" unit that serves as a means to torture and neglect inmates while preventing oversight by loved ones. We are petitioning the governor to establish clear regulation and oversight for quarantine units in NJ prison facilities and to open an investigation into the abusive practices at South Woods.

Petition by
Justice 4 Demi
Elizabeth, New Jersey

To: Governor Phil Murphy
From: [Your Name]

Dear Governor Murphy,

South Woods State Prison in Bridgeton, New Jersey, has always been notorious among inmates and their loved ones for being a place where neglect, abuse, and retaliation run rampant. Inmates are routinely subject to brutal physical abuse and sexual abuse by correctional officers as a form of discipline. When inmates report the abuse, they are often faced with retaliatory measures that include adverse housing assignments, restriction of communication privileges, and being framed for rules violations.

Conditions in South Woods have only worsened since you handed down your executive orders authorizing prison officials extraordinary means of containing the COVID-19 pandemic. South Woods has opened up a quarantine unit that can only be described as a dungeon that violates not only inmates’ civil rights, but their human rights as well.

Inmates report being locked down in solitary confinement for over a week at a time. They are not given access to daily showers or daily phone calls. They are not being provided with toiletries, toilet paper, or even shoes. Mail is restricted. They are not given electricity. They are provided old food that has caused vomiting in some inmates. They are not being provided with air conditioning.

In case you thought these extreme measures were in the interest of sanitation, the conditions are filthy. Inmates report being put in cells with vomit and feces on the floor. Nurses are not sanitizing and disposing of used medical supplies between check-ups of quarantined inmates. Inmates are put in the ward on the chance that they have come into contact with coronavirus without a positive test. Inmates are not allowed to see the results of tests for coronavirus or antibodies, and are being denied medical attention when they request it. Loved ones are being told that divulging any information about inmates in the quarantine unit would be a HIPAA violation.

We the undersigned loved ones of South Woods inmates demand that these injustices be corrected. Even a state of emergency is no excuse to deny inmates the civil and human rights they are entitled to under New Jersey, United States, and international law. Given the above grievances we demand the following:

+An immediate investigation into the conditions of the South Woods quarantine ward including anonymous interviews with inmates and their loved ones
+Inmate access to electricity, air conditioning, daily showers, toiletries, toilet paper, shoes and commissary items
+An immediate end to solitary confinement conditions in the quarantine ward
+Clear guidelines for health, housing, and sanitation in the quarantine unit for staff and inmates
+Normal access to communication with the outside world
+Video visitation comparable to in-person visitation as has been implemented in other states
+Provision of necessary medical care currently being denied to inmates due to prison transport restrictions and neglect
+An ad hoc agency tasked with directly overseeing procedures used to quarantine inmates at South Woods to ensure that guidelines are being followed and that it is not being used for discipline or retaliation for the duration that your emergency orders remain in effect

In the pursuit of justice, we sign our names.