In 2019, Meek Mill launched a prison reform organization alongside Jay-Z and other investors to reshape the United States’ criminal justice system. Now in a time of quarantining during the coronavirus pandemic, the outlet is turning its attention to protecting inmates from contamination.
REFORM Alliance hopes to launch the S.A.F.E.R. Plan with the support of governors to implement policies and plans-of-action that’ll enact free medical visits to inmates more susceptible to infection (like the elderly), shielding staff in the form of protective gear, and suspending probation visits and technical violations, Complex reports.
“As our country takes measures to protect against coronavirus, we can’t afford to forget about the millions of people under the control of our criminal justice system,” said Jessica Jackson, REFORM Alliance’s chief advocacy officer. “People in prisons, jails, or under community supervision are more at risk of contracting and spreading the virus, given their age, underlying health conditions, and close contact to each other. Protecting these individuals from coronavirus is not just a moral obligation, but necessary to preserve the health and safety of our communities.”
Viruses don’t respect borders or prison walls – they can spread everywhere. We need to stop the spread of #coronavirus in prisons before it spreads to our communities.
— REFORM Alliance (@REFORM) March 17, 2020
Jackson’s statement echoes that of Team Roc and Yo Gotti’s initiative within the Mississippi State Penitentiary (MSP), also known as Parchman. The prison has been the subject of conversation given inhumane conditions publicized by inmates. “In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, Parchman inmates are helpless in the most literal sense of the word, and without Court intervention, the MDOC will default to the same feckless approach to crises that have become the norm at Parchman,” a statement reads per CBS News.
This concern has also reached New York. A day after the general public and criminal justice reform advocates called for local governments to have a system in place to prevent an outbreak within jails and prisons, a New York City corrections officer at Rikers Island has been confirmed positive for COVID-19, NBC New York reports. The revelation was made public on Wednesday (March 18), after an investigator who was working at Rikers died from the virus. The news site also adds that Rikers hosts over 900 people aged 50 and up, an age group that’s the center of the virus’s mortality rate.
Recently, Philadelphia’s law enforcement signed off on a halt of arrests for non-violent crimes, including car theft, narcotics, burglary and more as a means of lessening the number of individuals incarcerated. Arrest warrants will be served at a later time.
FAQ’s REGARDING PPD’S RESPONSE TO COVID-19 pic.twitter.com/LLLhDKgxxL
— Philadelphia Police (@PhillyPolice) March 18, 2020