(Choose any ONE of these talking points--or your own--and present the summarized demands at the end)
Hi, my name is __________ and I am a resident of ___________. I am calling to demand that (Governor Walz/Jan Malcolm/Minnesota Department of Health) take immediate action to curb the spread of catastrophic outbreaks that are occurring in prisons and county jails all over the state of Minnesota.
1) While the Governor and the Health Commissioner are taking steps to curb the spread of the virus on the outside, they have adopted a policy of Herd Immunity as a strategy to mitigate COVID 19 in state and custodial facilities. This is immoral and unsafe. COVID positive patients in some of these facilities like Rush City are being made to share spaces with COVID negative people. Those in our prison system deserve the ability to practice the same guidelines promoted by the CDC.
2) While the Governor holds peacetime emergency powers in the state, it is his responsibility to make sure that every resident of Minnesota is safe. Tim Walz, Jan Malcolm, and the rest of the state and MDH leadership have abdicated their responsibility to keep prisoners and detainees safe, and to stop the accelerating outbreak in the state.They have turned over responsibility to the Department of Corrections, even though it is their job to keep everyone in the state safe from COVID
3) There is no such thing as safe incarceration during a deadly respiratory pandemic. The conditions in prisons, jails, and detention centers are not compatible with preventing the spread of COVID. Stillwater minimum security unit houses people in a dorm (one room) - they’re already at the end of their sentence and could be released but instead are packed in together. The DOC is using inhumane tactics alongside solitary isolation to take away people’s belongings during quarantine instead of providing a safe place for people to recover from COVID symptoms.
4) Nobody’s sentence should include COVID-19. COVID is dangerous and scary in any context--but much scarier in prison or detention. An incarcerated individual at the Stillwater facility speaks of the terrible conditions in the Stillwater prison, the toll on his and other inmates’ mental and physical well being, the continued intake of new prisoners leading to more outbreaks, and the DOC stripping them of their already meagre pay. Instead of providing our incarcerated community with support during this pandemic, we seem to have deserted them.
5) Jails, prisons, and detention centers seed wider outbreaks for staff who return to communities. This will only lead to a crisis situation in counties all over the state.To date, 680 reported staff cases in Anoka, Benton, Carlton, Goodhue, Itasca, Pine, Ramsey, Rice, Scott, Stearns, and Washington counties. Reducing prison population will reduce community spread.
As this second, more deadlier wave of the coronavirus spreads through custodial and state facilities, I am calling on Governor Walz/ Commissioner Malcolm to:
1) Sanction the compassionate medical release of vulnerable people with "warm hand-off" to safe settings (including but not limited to people over 60 years of age, with pre-existing medical conditions, and currently pregnant)
2) Shut the front door: stop taking in new people whose sentences could be reduced or any new immigrant detainees
3) Immediate adequate medical care and health compliance in all facilities
4) Phase out all contracts with ICE
5) Immediate moratorium on all transfers and deportations, which have been called “a means of biological warfare”, spreading COVID-19 around the country and the globe.
In summary, enact the proposed Executive Order from the ACLU, “Controlling COVID-19 Transmission and Mortality by Reducing Certain Populations in State and Local Custodial Facilities”. These are low-cost solutions that must happen immediately to save lives.