allahassee, FL -- Last week it was reported that seven Florida Department of Corrections employees who work at seven different corrections facilities have tested positive for COVID-19.
Members of the Florida Campaign for Criminal Justice Reform have previously called on Florida officials to ensure that the health and safety of people in jails, prisons and immigrant detention centers in the Deep South are being protected from the virus, and release those people most at risk of suffering serious complications or death.
Multiple DOC employees testing positive increases the urgency of that call, and requires state officials to look into a serious reduction of the prison population immediately.
The following is a statement from Scott McCoy, senior policy counsel for SPLC Action:
“Incarcerated people are highly vulnerable to outbreaks of contagious illnesses such as COVID-19. They are housed in close quarters and can’t practice social distancing. We need to get people out of jails and prisons. We don’t need to have almost 100,000 people locked up at a cost of almost $3 billion a year. The best answer to public health and humanitarian concerns is to get people out.”
The following is a statement from Kara Gross, legislative director and senior policy counsel for the ACLU of Florida:
“The time to act is right now we cannot delay any longer. For the safety and health of all Floridians, we need to take action immediately to curb the spread of COVID-19 and prevent any mass outbreak in our prisons. Governor DeSantis must heed public health experts’ recommendations and safely release those who do not pose a danger to society and are most vulnerable to COVID-19 - particularly the elderly and sick. We need to reduce dangerous overcrowding in our criminal legal system now, before it’s too late.”
The following is a statement from Denise Rock, executive director of Florida Cares Charity Corp., dedicated to improving the lives of the incarcerated:
“This is not about sentencing reform, this is about a humanitarian crisis. I don’t know if society realizes how many people over 60 are in our prisons, just stuck in there for a robbery or battery 35 years ago. They haven’t posed a threat to anyone in decades. Keeping them in prison right now actually poses a threat to their lives. We must let the elderly in our prisons return home, electronically monitor them if you’d like, just don’t leave them in prison where it is impossible to practice social distancing in prison.”