COVID19 has entered the Alabama prison system and it will continue to spread like wildfire unless immediate collective action is taken to release incarcerated people.
There are no security measures strong enough to keep a pandemic out of prisons.
In the context of global pandemic, we should understand the prison system as a massive disease vector. There are no security measures strong enough to keep a plague contained within prison walls. As COVID19 proliferates in our overcrowded prison system, it will spread back outside the walls and fences to ravish the lives and families of those who work inside the prisons, and the population at large.
Mitigating the spread of a pandemic is always a matter of collective responsibility, and we know that the ADOC is not taking the precautions it claims to be. Basic necessities like soap are severely restricted and bleach is considered contraband. The ADOC does not provide enough soap for simple hand-washing, let alone as frequently as recommended by medical experts. Our comrades inside are depending on us to put pressure on prison officials. Please take a few minutes to call and demand the safety and freedom of our loved ones.
Who to Call:
Commisioner Jeff Dunn: 334-353-3883
ADOC Facilities Manager Jenny Abbott: 334-567-1554
Warden Leon Bolling: 205 467-6111
Suggested Call Script:
“Hello, I am calling in regards to the ADOC staff member who tested positive for COVID-19. I am very concerned about how the virus will spread in and beyond the prison walls. What precautions are being taken to protect incarcerated people from exposure? Have incarcerated people been tested? What sanitation supplies do they have access to? In order to prevent a humanitarian disaster, I demand that you release all elder and chronically ill prisoners and in the mean time, provide free testing, sanitation products, and phone calls.”
Tips for Making Calls:
- Be firm but polite, insist on speaking to the person you are calling for
- Leave a message if no one answers
- Refuse to give any information that you may be uncomfortable sharing with the state (e.g. full legal name, organizational affiliation, etc.)
- Record phone-calls whenever possible and send recordings to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Send any new information gathered from calls to email@example.com ,
or Tweet @FightXPrisons , @FAMQueenTeam
Who to E-mail/ Fax:
Governor Kay Ivey: https://contact.governor.alabama.gov/contact.aspx
St. Clair C.F. Warden Leon Bolling: firstname.lastname@example.org
ADOC Fax #: 334 353 8922
E-mail Script (Written in collaboration with people incarcerated in Alabama prisons)
I am writing in response to the ADOC’s press release regarding the prison staff member testing positive for COVID-19. I am very concerned about the impacts of COVID-19 on incarcerated people. Governor Iveys’ administration has allowed the ADOC to remain overcrowded, medically understaffed, and negligently operated. Governor Kay Ivey, Commissioner Dunn, his staff and wardens, and Parole Commission Director Graddick must take dramatic emergency action now, before a COVID-19 outbreak in the prisons, to mitigate its potentially devastating impact on Alabama’s already unstable facilities. We know that the ADOC is not taking necessary precautions to protect public health, and we demand the following:
Release as many people as possible to reduce dangerous overcrowding.
- Grant compassionate release to all elderly and immune-compromised people from Alabama prisons. The death penalty for non-capital offenses is not legal in Alabama, but by continuing to incarcerate vulnerable people while a deadly virus spreads through the system Governor Ivey will be effectively sentencing them to death.
- End crimeless revocations and release those held on them. Nearly half of new admissions into Alabama’s overcrowded prisons come not from new criminal convictions, but “rules only” violations. Eliminating this practice and releasing everyone currently doing time on a revocation is the single best way to reduce overcrowding and prevent the spread of COVID-19 though Alabama prisons. Also, endangering or shortening someone’s life because they violated a technical rule of supervision is grotesque.
- Immediately release anyone who is under the age of 21, or who has served 25 or more years of incarceration consecutively, or who is over the age of 55.
- Release all people who will be parole-eligible in 2020 and can provide sufficient re-entry plans, and all people currently under 5 or on less than 1 year deferral but would otherwise be eligible for parole consideration. The parole commission under Charles Graddick has been gradually decreasing the rate of releases to a virtual standstill under the previous parole Board. Many of the parole-eligible “old law” prisoners are at lower to medium security levels, with release plans at the ready. Graddick could expedite the release of these people so they can self-quarantine with family and not exacerbate the overcrowding and risk of COVID-19 outbreak in their prisons.
- Issue a mass clemency or emergency furlows for people convicted of low-level offenses and people nearing release. It is being done by other States: the Republican Governor of Oklahoma recently released hundreds of people in a single day. Minimum security facilities are among the most overcrowded, and hundreds of people on work release in these facilities have been getting out daily to work in the community already. Releasing these people is surely a lower risk to public safety than forcing them to crowd prisons, turning them into incubators for disease.
Give incarcerated people the means to protect themselves.
- Prioritize testing in prisons and distribute CDC prevention guidelines.
- Distribute soap, tissues, gloves, masks, gauze to filter vents, and disinfectant wipes or sprays. Handwashing is the most effective way to stop the spread of COVID-19, but ADOC provides some indigent people with barely enough soap to wash their hands once daily. Tissues and toilet paper are strictly rationed. Masks, alcohol gel or wipes are completely forbidden. All these things must be distributed free of charge immediately.
- Make phone, email and tablet access free. The people who remain incarcerated need every opportunity to connect with their loved ones during this crisis.
- Support re-entry for people being released.”