Sentenced to Prison or Sentenced to COVID?

Many of us are aware that our judicial system is not built to benefit black and brown people. We are also aware that black and brown people are arrested at an alarmingly higher rate, and black people at the highest. Right now COVID19 is passing through prisons and even killing some inmates. After hearing how easily the illness is spread, it isn’t surprising that it is spreading quickly in an environment like a prison. There are people in prison for non-violent marijuana convictions, as I mentioned in a previous post, and marijuana is legal in a lot of states. There are people in prison who have been wrongfully accused of a crime and they have lawyers and other advocates working tirelessly to prove their innocence (a lot of times there’s evidence of innocence). There are people who have served their sentence and are weeks away from being released. Should they be forced to stay in prison and risk catching the virus and possibly killing them before they get to taste freedom?

The big question has been do we let people out of prison to prevent them from catching or spreading COVID19? In my opinion, there are a few different ways to handle this, but my answer is mostly yes. If a prisoner is going to be released within 30 days, they should be released now. There isn’t much of a difference that will take place in 30 days. If someone is in prison for a non-violent marijuana offense, in a state marijuana has been made legal, they should be released. Yes the COVID should speed this release up, but come one… they shouldn’t be there in the first place. Prisons need to figure out a way to treat prisoners who have been diagnosed with COVID in a space away from the other prisoners. If the prison industry is a billion dollar industry, why aren’t they using the profits to treat the people they are profiting from. Committing a crime does not mean they aren’t human and shouldn’t be treated as such. I certainly understand that there are some prisoners who committed heinous crimes. I do believe that we as humans should not give ourselves the power to decide who should live and who should die, we have to let the universe decide that. Therefore, all inmates should be treated, pun intended, equally.

In the article I read, link attached below, from BuzzFeed, they mention that prisoners in an Illinois prison are dying from COVID19 within close proximity to inmates who have not tested positive. One of the inmates mentioned is a man named Antonio McDowell who says he was wrongfully convicted of a crime in 1997 by a crooked detective; it has now come out that this same detective has been accused by over 50 inmates of wrongful charges. The courts have been looking into these accusations and some of the accused have been released after these accusations came out and some have the possibility to get out of prison because of this. I just cannot imagine fighting for so long to overturn wrongful charges and then dying from COVID19 in the process. It isn’t fair that this is happening, and it isn’t fair that this matter isn’t being taken more seriously, especially since the war on prisons is not a new plight. There are lots of decisions that are being taken more serious since COVID19 and all of the consequences of it. This is a matter that needs immediate attention for the sake of human beings in a broken system.

Many Inmates Fear Coronavirus Is The New Death Penalty

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