The Last Prisoner Project (LPP), an organization fighting for the release of all cannabis prisoners, has released a video statement by founder Steve DeAngelo that calls for immediate action in light of the spreading COVID-19 coronavirus.
“When you’re locked up in a cell, … you are powerless,” DeAngelo said, describing the outbreak from the perspective of prisoners. “You have no control over your food, over your social distance, even over the air you breathe. And already, coronavirus is in prisons.”
In an accompanying press release, LPP outlines a number of actions that officials should carry out to immediately help reduce the impact of COVID-19 among prison populations, including:
- Identifying prisoners scheduled for release in the next six months and sending them early into home confinement.
- Paroling prisoners aged 65+ with priority given to prisoners who are particularly at-risk to the virus.
- Reducing prisoners’ direct supervision to promote social distancing.
- Suspending medical visit copays for prisoners.
- Free “smart visitations” and phone calls for incarcerated individuals.
- The release of all cannabis prisoners.
“There are 2.3 million people in the United States in prison, and the very best way to cut that down immediately would be to release every single person who’s in there on cannabis charges since it never should have been a crime in the first place.” — DeAngelo, in a statement
DeAngelo’s warnings accompany announcements from some law enforcement agencies that their officers would not be responding in person to non-emergency situations so as to reduce social interactions between officers and potentially infected individuals.
Police in Washington D.C., however, have continued to make low-level arrests, including for illegal cannabis distribution despite the fact that personal cannabis cultivation and possession have been legalized in the District.
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