The American prison system is, in a word, trash. prisoners are often faced with inhumane conditions and treatment, and the cramped living spaces make it one of the worst places to be in the midst of a pandemic. Luckily, there are folks out there who believe in treating prisoners with the basic dignity and respect they deserve.
CBS News reports that Jay-Z and Meek Mill’s criminal justice organization, REFORM Alliance, will donate 10 million surgical masks to prisons and jails across the country. The donation was made possible by a $10 million contribution from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey through his Smart Relief fund. “This is 2.3 million Americans that don’t usually have the loudest voice. That’s why we’re doing this, to give that population a voice and answer their call to be treated like humans.” Bob Pilon, president of the REFORM Alliance, told CBS News. REFORM Alliance had previously donated 100,000 masks last month.
Jails and prisons have been particularly hard hit by COVID-19, with many of the nation’s hot spots being prisons. On Sunday, a federal prison in Fort Worth, Texas, reported 423 new cases of COVID-19. “It’s really important that we look at the solutions to ending this holistically. Prisons are eight of the top 10 hotspots, so people need to care about them.” Pilon told CBS News.
From CBS News:
The Prison Policy Initiative estimates roughly one-third of U.S. jails have cut their populations by 25% since the pandemic began. In the nation’s epicenter of the crisis, New York City’s jail population now hovers below 4,000, its lowest level in decades.
A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed the difficulties prisons and jails are facing when combating the disease, including the critical need for broad-based testing of both inmates and staff.
Correctional facilities with widespread testing show the highest number of positive cases, suggesting the true number of overall cases behind bars is likely significantly underreported, according to an analysis by the UCLA School of Law COVID-19 Behind Bars Data Project.
REFORM Alliance intends to utilize a tracker in an effort to be transparent about where the masks are going. They’ve recently launched a digital campaign named #AnswerTheCall that puts a spotlight on mass incarceration by letting those incarcerated tell their stories.