New Yorkers United for Justice Calls for New York State to Immediately Release a Plan Detailing How to Manage COVID-19 in Correctional Facilities to Protect Incarcerated & Working Populations

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 16, 2010

For More Information Contact: 
Reynolds Graves rgraves@skdknick.com  

New Yorkers United for Justice Calls for New York State to Immediately Release a Plan Detailing How to Manage COVID-19 in Correctional Facilities to Protect Incarcerated & Working Populations

Coalition Also Calls for Plan to Contain Spread of the Virus by Reducing Density of Prison Population, Including Moving Nonviolent Offenders

(New York, NY) – Today, as COVID-19 continues spreading and the Supreme Court of the United States suspended oral arguments and other procedures to keep personnel safe, a local corrections officer died of coronavirus, and an inmate at the Nassau County Jail tested positive for COVID-19. Because so much of the court system relies on human interaction and density spreads the disease, New Yorkers United for Justice is calling on New York State, including the New York State Division of Parole, to release immediate plans to manage the spread of the virus in the criminal justice system, including pretrial, in-court, during incarceration and post-incarceration. This plan should include ways to reduce density by moving nonviolent offender currently stuck in the system to other types of facilities.

“COVID-19 is spread through proximity, and in light of the potentially, catastrophic impact on those in the criminal justice system, New Yorkers United for Justice calls on state leaders to release specific plans to protect those in the justice system through distancing, which is nearly impossible in the system’s current construct,” said Khalil Cumberbatch, Chief Strategist for New Yorkers United for Justice. “It is a step in the right direction that New York State has postponed certain trials and is cancelling jail visits at this time. However, system-wide, there is far more sweeping, urgent work to do.”

Specifically, NYUJ is calling for New York Courts, and the New York State Division of Parole in coordination with Federal and local authorities to do the following:

  • Coordinate with Federal, State and local officials to develop a comprehensive plan for humanely and properly managing infections and caring for those affected by COVID-19 in correctional facilities.
  • Coordinate with Federal, State and local officials to immediately move nonviolent offenders to separate facilities in effort to reduce density of the populations.
  • Issue a moratorium on warrants for technical parole violations that could result in mandatory prehearing detention and a moratorium on parole revocation for technical violations resulting in incarceration.
  • Issue emergency overtime and increased wages for incarcerated individuals employed to manufacture hand sanitizer and related health supplies.
  • Offer a broadened use of alternatives to incarceration, especially for those with compromised immune systems or other underlying health conditions.
  • Make clear ways to reduce dangerous population density in the system, that should include adapting recommended distancing protocols in all situations, to moving nonviolent offenders to alternative sites and facilities

**Khalil Cumberbatch and Norman Reimer is Available for Interviews**

About New Yorkers United for Justice (NYUJ):
New Yorkers United for Justice is a statewide coalition comprised of local and national non-profit organizations committed to supporting a movement that will bring much-needed criminal justice reform to New York State and ensure that policies promote safety and fairness. NYUJ aims for legislative urgency to fix a broken criminal justice system that punishes the poor and communities of color, tears families apart, and makes New Yorkers less safe. NYUJ believes that a system that ensures equal access to justice for anyone accused in New York State, regardless of age, race, ethnicity or social economic status, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin or religion, must be the standard.