A Day of Morning and a Demand to #FreeThemAll
Updated: Jan 6
August 22, 2020 - Public Funeral Service held at Florida Capitol to Honor Lives Lost From COVID-19 in Florida's Prisons and Detention Centers
TALLAHASSEE, FL - Organizations across the state held a public funeral service and procession starting at the Historic Florida State Capitol Building in remembrance of the dozens of prisoners' lives senselessly lost from COVID-19 due to the negligence of officials in Florida who oversee operations at both state and Federal prisons, county jails, and ICE detention centers.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, over 15,000 incarcerated people in Florida have contracted COVID-19 resulting in 78 known COVID-related deaths inside FDOC prisons, 5 inside BOP Federal facilities, and 2 within immigrant detention centers across Florida.
Despite growing public health concerns and deteriorating conditions inside Florida prisons, our government officials have continuously refused to act.
“They’re scared for their lives. ICE is warehousing immigrants on top of each other, with as many as 60 people forced to share one toilet and no chance for social distancing,” says organizer Wendy King with Friends of Miami-Dade Detainees.
Researchers at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health released a report in July that showed that people incarcerated in the US tested positive for COVID-19 at a rate that was 5.5 times higher than the general US population and had a death rate that was 3 times higher than that of the general population in the US after contracting COVID-19. According to the New York Times COVID-19 Case Tracker, 84 of the top 100 COVID-19 outbreak hotspots in the country are prisons and jails, 15 of them are located in Florida’s incarceration system alone.
“Prisoners are being denied access to clean water, ample food, and cleaning supplies while being forced into filthy overcrowded cells with people sleeping on the floor. As conditions worsen, the death toll in total has risen to over 440 deaths so far this year alone,” says Karen Smith with Florida Prisoner Solidarity. "This is cruel, unusual, and unacceptable."
It is impossible to social distance in a cell.
The coalition has the following demands for Governor Ron DeSantis, FDOC Director Mark Inch, and Florida ICE officials Liana Castano and Jason Davidson take immediate action to reduce Florida’s incarcerated population--and potentially save hundreds of lives--through the following actions:
1. Immediately grant parole to the over 4,000 eligible prisoners and bring back parole
for everyone. No human should be sentenced to death by incarceration or serve any
sentence without the chance of parole.
2. Immediately grant clemency for the hundreds of eligible prisoners, and authorize
compassionate and early release programs to all state prisoners.
3. Release on humanitarian parole or at-home monitoring all people held in ICE
detention, beginning with the elderly and medically vulnerable.
4. Reduce prison time to 65% of sentences.
5. End racial overcharging, over-sentencing, and denial of parole for Black and Brown
6. Raise age limits of “juvenile offenders” to 25 years old, commensurate with the s
scientific consensus on human brain development.
7. Abolish death sentencing and convert to time with a 25 year cap.
Governor DeSantis, FDOC Director Mark Inch, and ICE’s failure to act is a conscious decision that will actively result in hundreds if not thousands of needless deaths. Every death inside a cage from COVID-19 due to this choice is an act of state-sanctioned murder.