Tallahassee, Fla. - As Florida officials continue resisting efforts to significantly reduce the prison population and have been slow to publicly reveal their plans for handling a coronavirus outbreak in prisons, the 28th person incarcerated in the state has died from COVID-19 according to the Florida Department of Corrections.
Since the virus began to rapidly spread in March, the Florida Campaign for Criminal Justice Reform has repeatedly called for the release of people from jails and prisons. These calls - supported by other civil rights organizations, faith leaders and public health officials - have gone ignored. But it’s not too late to realize that getting people out of these already overcrowded prisons is necessary for the safety and welfare of others.
People come in and out of these prisons every day. An outbreak in the prison system will get into the general population, the only way to prevent that is to stop an outbreak from ever occurring in prison.
Members of the Florida Campaign for Criminal Justice Reform issued the following statements after the latest death:
Statement from Carrie Boyd, policy counsel for SPLC Action.
“It is long past time for Florida officials to stop ignoring the reality of a deadly COVID-19 outbreak in the prison system and take action to prevent further harm, including more deaths of incarcerated people and corrections staff. There are almost certainly more people with COVID-19 in prisons that haven’t been tested, and the safe and humane way to ease this crisis is to release those who are most vulnerable.”
Statement from Kirk Bailey, political director for the ACLU of Florida.
“Continued overcrowding and inadequate health care almost certainly have made this pandemic worse in Florida’s prisons and jail.We need to get the medically frail, the elderly and those scheduled to get out soon out as quickly as possible. Reducing the prison population is the best answer from both a humanitarian and public health perspective to prevent more COVID-19 deaths. Is it too much to ask to release those who do not pose a danger to society and are most vulnerable to COVID-19?”