Phone Zap for Kentuckians Behind Bars on 3/11/21

Incarcerated Kentuckians’ Loved Ones Demand Immediate Clemency In The Face Of Covid-19 Conditions


Loved ones of incarcerated people in multiple Facebook groups including Inmate Support KY and Prison Wives of Green River Correctional Complex (GRCC) have sought comfort and answers from one another throughout the pandemic. Navigating the Correctional System is intentionally difficult, both for those who are locked up as well as their contacts outside the prisons. With so little clarity about covid policies and procedures inside these facilities (and how consistently those procedures are implemented), it’s no surprise that people are afraid for their loved ones’ lives.

Within these online support groups are reports from inmates of illegal and unethical treatment, including the denial of temperature checks, psychiatric medications, chronic care doctor visits, and basic hygiene like showers and laundry. The Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons has received reports confirming this lack of care in their ongoing ‘Covid-19 in KY Prisons’ survey, which was sent directly to inmates at 12 state-run facilities beginning in November 2020. Similar conditions were reported at the start of the pandemic roughly one year ago. After 12 months, the Kentucky Department of Corrections (DOC) has had plenty of time to develop and implement better practices, yet these conditions continue. 

There are currently 26 people on death row in Kentucky, but without protection from this deadly virus, all 17,000 people in the DOC population might as well be sentenced to death, too. Loved ones of incarcerated Kentuckians are fed up with the incompetence and negligence of the DOC and are calling on others who seek a more just future to join them in demanding better from our justice system.

Our state leaders should take note of the recent progress in North Carolina prisons. After 10 months of litigation, the North Caroline NAACP and incarcerated plaintiffs won a settlement against the DOC for their inability to adequately care for the people in their custody. The settlement will result in the unprecedented early release of at least 3,500 people in state custody, making it among the largest prison releases in the country achieved via COVID-19 litigation efforts. Additionally, the settlement will ensure the state takes important measures to mitigate the ongoing threat of COVID-19 in North Carolina’s prisons, including through vaccination and safe testing, cohorting, transfer protocols, as well as monitoring and complaint processes. The KY DOC could preemptively make these changes without the need for time-consuming, costly litigation, and it would be in ALL Kentuckians best interest for them to do so.

This action is cosponsored by FTP, Louisville Community Bail Fund, and Black Lives Matter Louisville.

About Louisville Community Bail Fund

The Louisville Community Bail Fund exists to not only bail out folks, but provide post-release support to get them from jail, fed, and to a situation of safety. LCBF also maintains a focus on preventative measures for those targeted by law enforcement and threatened with incarceration. While we work with national networks, we are also one of the only bail funds that rely entirely on support from individuals in our social justice community.

About Black Lives Matter Louisville

Louisville’s Black Lives Matter organization is one of many decentralized groups who use the BLM name. They work in many ways to create liberation for Black people, including the work of police accountability through education, mutual aid, and direct action.

CALL SCRIPT:

“Hello, I am calling to demand you take immediate action to protect incarcerated people from further exposure to Covid-19. To ensure the safety of people inside you must initiate a mass release process, starting with the elderly, chronically ill, and those who are near their parole date. Incarcerated people should be released to their families! Facilities must be evacuated in a COVID safe manner. This means quarantining for 2 weeks and ensuring all incarcerated people have access to masks and sanitation supplies. Finally, inmates must have access to unlimited phone calls to arrange housing and transportation for their release.

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 or they refuse to transfer you
  • Refuse to give any information that you may be uncomfortable sharing with the state (e.g. full legal name, organizational affiliation, etc.)

Send any new information gathered from calls to fighttoxicprisons@gmail.com or Tweet @FightXPrisons