IPNO’s Monday Memo:
Every Incarcerated Person Deserves to be Treated with Dignity and Humanity Even in a Pandemic
As the COVID-19 virus spreads throughout Louisiana’s already–overcrowded prisons, IPNO is continuing to collaborate with our allies and community leaders to effectively advocate for and protect incarcerated individuals in Louisiana prisons. The news of DOC’s plans to house sick, incarcerated people from all over the state at Angola’s Camp J has alarmed and frightened individuals already imprisoned at Angola and their families. Let us be clear, Camp J was shut down by DOC in 2018 because it was not fit for healthy prisoners. Now DOC plans to put sick people in that same facility. There is no humane, dignified reason for this.
The growing crisis at Angola has Dominque Johnson distressed for her father, Charles Brown, Jr., who is serving a life sentence at Angola. Charles, who has not tested positive for the virus, recently called his daughter to tell her that he was being moved to Camp J. Worried about getting sick, Charles asked her to help keep him stocked up on bleach and antibacterial soap.
Dominque is a co-founder of Daughters Beyond Incarceration with Bree Anderson (daughter of IPNO exoneree Robert Jones), an organization which helps foster positive relationships between girls and their incarcerated fathers.
“He said, ‘I just need you to make sure I have money on my account, so when [soaps and bleach] become available I can stock up on it’,” she said. Listen to Dominque here:
While some officials have irresponsibly sounded the alarm of how releasing incarcerated individuals who are older, health-compromised, or have excellent records will result in a crime wave, we stand with actual leaders who are listening to public health experts and adopting new strategies to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure to incarcerated individuals and corrections staff.
As we enter another month of cancelled schools, stay-at-home order and social distancing, stay vigilant and continue to take these actions. We know that only through persistence, change happens.
- Call and email your legislators and the Governor, and demand that they provide for the health and safety of Louisiana’s incarcerated individuals, and immediately release prisoners with already commuted or recommended commuted sentences.
- Support our incarcerated and freed clients here. They have few resources and need your help during this pandemic. If you want to help support a specific freed client, see their individual fundraising page here. Many of them have lost their jobs, run short on groceries and cleaning supplies, and are working with IPNO to navigate the already burdened unemployment services.
Please be safe, healthy and vigilant. Stay home. Do your part to help contain coronavirus and save lives.