Why decarceration is “the only solution” to the COVID-19 crisis in U.S. prisons

Democracy Now!

Apr 6, 2020

U.S. Attorney General William Barr issued an emergency order Friday calling for the release of vulnerable federal prisoners into home confinement amid the coronavirus crisis. This news comes as at least 16 states have also released prisoners. Meanwhile, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has said he’ll release about 300 people from Rikers Island and other city jails, but advocates are calling for far more to be freed. We speak with José Saldana, director of the group Release Aging People in Prison, about the treatment of incarcerated people in New York state, where Governor Andrew Cuomo has yet to grant anyone freedom despite at least 24 confirmed cases among state prisoners. “Unfortunately, for those who are incarcerated — especially the elderly and those with underlying conditions — [Cuomo] has totally ignored their plight,” says Saldana. “All of the health experts agree that in a prison setting that is breeding grounds for this virus, decarceration is the only solution to stopping the spread of this virus. And he has yet to listen to the experts.”

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