Op-Ed: An Open Letter to Governor Inslee to Protect Our Detained and Incarcerated Loved Ones

by the COVID-19 Mutual Aid Solidarity Network (Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Awareness Group, Creative Justice, No New Youth Jail, Pacific Rim Solidarity Network)


Dear Governor Jay Inslee,

We call on you to act immediately to protect the lives of Washington State citizens confined in our prisons and jails. As the coronavirus presently threatens the health and lives of people across the country, those imprisoned in Washington State could quickly be subject to a death sentence. Even before the coronavirus, the Washington Office of the Corrections Ombuds identified that our state institutions are vulnerable to a pandemic. As noted, “OCO’s largest area of concern with regard to conditions of confinement for persons incarcerated in DOC is in health services. Over 20% of complaints pertain to allegations of poor quality of health care or inability to access health care.”

In order to truly flatten the curve in our state, we must decrease our population in prisons, jails and detention centers. Other states have already taken action or are considering the following steps to reduce the threat to the lives of incarcerated people. Nearly twenty percent of our state’s prison population is over 50 years old, making them especially vulnerable to coronavirus infection. Close quarters and insufficient supplies exacerbate this threat.

To this end, we call on the State of Washington to immediately:

  • Release all medically vulnerable adults, especially people over the age of 50. The Indeterminate Sentence Review Board (ISRB) should expedite release––consistent with public safety––of all immuno-suppressed, chronically ill, elderly, and/or pregnant incarcerated people.
  • Release all people who do not pose a risk to public safety. 
  • Given that ICE and the Northwest Detention Center have repeatedly failed to respond to mumps and other outbreaks in the recent past, we ask that you order DOC not to transfer any person released into ICE custody.
  • Grant early release to people with anticipated release dates in 2020 and 2021.
  • Release people whose release has been ordered by the ISRB but who remain confined pending approval of their release plans.
  • Eliminate minimum sentencing laws, under which judicial discretion is minimized and systematic incarceration is further facilitated.
  • Immediately release all incarcerated people who do not pose a risk to public safety. Evidence shows that this category includes people who have served at least 15 years of their sentence, are over 50, and/or are incarcerated for offenses they committed as juveniles.
  • Immediately release all people incarcerated for poverty violations, including those sentenced under the Three Strikes Law.
  • Suspend all probation and community custody violations. Reducing the flow of people into confined spaces such as DOC facilities is crucial to flattening the curve in this pandemic.
  • Accommodate individuals who may not be able to attend check-ins with community corrections officers.
  • Suspend the need for individuals on work releases to have to report to work or school.
  • Release individuals on work release who have 6 months or less time.
  • Expand preventative health care measures for people who are incarcerated. In addition to taking steps to address overcrowding, all people who remain in custody should be cared for. Given this reality, solitary confinement is not preventative health care and should not be used to mitigate the risk to vulnerable prisoners. Instead, our jails and prisons should take the following measures.
  • Provide unlimited and free access to sanitary supplies for those who are incarcerated and enable them to institute safe practices: this includes unlimited handwashing, moisturizers, alcohol-based (60% or higher) hand-sanitizer, bleach-based cleaners, and gloves.
  • Actively screen temperatures and health conditions of all staff members who enter the prisons; prohibit any staff with illness from entrance to a facility.
  • Utilize additional medical staff who are not a part of the DOC to coordinate care.
  • Establish a quarantine location that is not in the living units and is not solitary confinement.
  • Restrict solitary confinement to no more than 15 days and only use this extreme punishment in extreme circumstances.
  • Set clear limitations on the use of lockdown during this time.
  • Eliminate medical co-pays, provide free testing and treatment
  • Install more JPay kiosks (or Securus kiosks in the local jails) in the living units to allow for more access to video visits between incarcerated people and their loved ones in the community in this time of crisis. Connection to loved ones is especially critical in this frightening time. As Washington DOC has restricted visits, it must provide incarcerated people more access to phone calls and remote video visitations free of charge. 
  • DOC facilities and local jails on average have only 2 remote video visitation kiosks per 400 incarcerated people. Installing more kiosks would allow for greater access to video visitations and limit the spread of coronavirus.
  • Given the exorbitant cost of phone calls and remote video visitations, DOC must require the telecommunication companies that are contracted (Jpay and Global Tel Link), to allow for phone calls and remote video visitation at no charge to incarcerated people and their loved ones.
  • Ensure prison/jail staff compliance in allowing incarcerated people more access to phones and video visitation kiosks. Since it is likely that most facilities are on some type of restricted movement or lockdown, prison/jail staff must be required to allow incarcerated people out of their confined quarters to access the phones and kiosks more frequently.
  • Provide alcohol based cleaning wipes at the phones and kiosks so people can adequately clean the phones and kiosks before and after use to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Governor Inslee, we appreciate the ways that you and our Washington State legislators take seriously the need to protect the lives of our residents. As you know, the health, well-being, and lives of people in the state’s locked institutions are literally in your hands. We urge you to take immediate and decisive action to save the lives of some of the most vulnerable communities in Washington. You will have our full and active support in this critical work.

Due to the urgency of the issue at hand, we expect a prompt response from you by Friday March 20th 12pm.

Sincerely,

Organizational Endorsements

Black Prisoner Caucus

La Resistencia

No New Women’s Prison

Black and Pink Seattle

Bridges to Life Restorative Justice

Creative Justice

Disability Rights Washington

FIRELANDS Workers United (Stina Janssen)

Justice Support Group

Central Washington Justice For Our Neighbors

Columbia Legal Services

Freedom Project

Human Impact Partners

Left Bank Books Collective

Gathering Roots Retreat Center

PARISOL (Pacific Rim Solidarity Network)

Real Change

Safety through Solidarity

Solidarity and Direct Action (SoDA) Seattle

Seattle South Asians 4 Black Lives (Rani Hanstad, Aretha Basu, Pranava Raparla)

APICAG (Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Awareness Group)

Cargo Bike Kitchen LLC

Prison Health News

Satterberg Foundation

Seattle ACED

Planning Alternatives for Change

Power Past Fracked Gas (Sarah Cornett)

United Students Against Sweatshops

Washington Young Farmers

Prison Voice WA (Loretta Pedersen)

Reframe Health and Justice

Team Child

Social Justice Fund NW

The Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons

WA Statewide Family Council (Loretta Pedersen)

Health Equity Circle Spokane

Olympia Bail Fund

350 Eastside  (Phil Ritter)

PSARA (Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action

Thrive Resilient LLC

Dominican Association of Washington State

350 Tacoma, (Bradley Thompson)

Dharma Friendship Foundation

Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane

Kitsap Showing Up for Racial Justice

One America

CID Coalition / #HumbowsNotHotels

National Lawyers Guild, Seattle Chapter

Jews Undoing Institutional Racism

Non-Complicit Student Association at the University of Washington School of Law

Seattle South Asians for Black Lives

Transit Riders Union

Gender Justice Beyond Bars and Binaries

Legal Voice

Post-Prison Education Program

350 Seattle, (Emily Johnston)

 

Individual Endorsements

Nikkita Oliver

Chelsea Moore

Dan Berger

Suzanne Cook

Loren Taylor

Linh Nguyen

Janet Moriarty

Cheuk-Ning Li

Cammie Carl

John Stovall

Emily Childs

Sandra Weber

Alison Cheung

Darby Bundy

Therese pfeil

Maria Garcia

MaryAnne Tran

Michael Grant

Andy Wen

Caitlyn Hynes

Soya Jung

Mushawn Knowles

Jane Singer

Meredith Durbin

Heather Dockery

Kristina Nielander

Portia

Ainsley Kelly

Narada Roberts

Roderick. Roberts

Jessica Means

Bruno George

Gabbi Nazari

Jason Beutler

Susan M. Taylor, ARNP

Michelle Kriebel

Maya Ramakrishnan

Sarah Desti

Jasmine Bernardez

Carrie Freshour

Jessica Ward

Danielle Shapiro

Amber kha

Melissa Dunbar

Debra Daniels

Danielle Hennigan

Marie Artap

Katie Wilks

Devan Holmes

Amy Groesbeck

Leo Farbman

Kate Brunette

Janet Floyd

Sherri Caldellis

Abigail Johnston

Susan Royer

Tyler Wilch

Heather Manley

Katherine Frasier

Stacey sevier

Peggy

Danthanh Trinh

Trevor P.

Kami Yamamoto

Caitlin Nold

Julie triggs

Jillian Rausa

Mark Gravador

Diane Durall

Sam Lee

Lizzy Ott

Julia Robinson

Lesley Hoare

Mark Macomber

Margaret Wilson-Briggs

Laura Powell

Kathleen l Starr

Siabhon Ayuso

Mackenzie Barton-Rowledge

Sierra Kaplan-Nelson

Katherine Schaff, DrPH

Waajidah Smith

Madeleine Greenfield

Ashley Werth

Gillian Harkins

Stevie Houpt

Helena Benedict

Alaina Schultz

Angelica Jannone

Sofiya Liashedko

Liz Kroboth, MPH

Catherine M. White

Rebecca Hill

Meredith Ruff

Andy Cornell

Marc Mazique

Frances Lee

Aaron J. Shay

Tanya Roman

Bean Yogi

Marisa Ordonia

Braden Pence

Emilie Carr

Hannah Halpern

Burke Stansbury

Denise Grollmus

Jeffrey Davidson

Cassandra Butler

Tasha Walston

Shannon solie

Paula Crews Bond

Roy Todd Bond

Nikki Châu

Julie Steinbacher

Keren Ram

Erin Wolf

Laura De Vos

Allison Osborne

Anna Fernandez

Loretta Pedersen

Pranava Raparla

Lacie Braun

Will Darling

Anna Ivanov

Richelle

Raphael Felix

Alexis Bogan

Max Delsohn

Dave Bullard

Jody Bullard

Kari Langsea

Susan D Cooksey

Elizabeth Lynch

Ingrid Pixel

David Spataro

Sasha Duttchoudhury

Renee Shank

Phil Neff

Remy Teal

Jessica Allen

Ky Cochran

Ian Nava

Lorena Matteucci

Alexander Stein

Meilani Mandery

Ammara Touch

Anise Rau

Courtney Morales Thrall

Chen-Chen Jiang

Dante Meola

Scout Raven Khelian

Lo Goens

Nicollette Roe

Karen Toering

Kanak

Aniela Gustin

Leah van Hoeve

Anish Kumar

Asha Hanstad

Linda Vong

Uma Rao

Heather Carawan

Eevee Sun

Damian Davis

Riley Moos

Lydia Rubenstein

Olivia Mansker-Stoker

callie bee

Sharada Rayan

Lourdez Velasco

Ivey Lufkin

Tomas Madrigal

Sarah Johnson

Emmett Stanfield

Anna Bychkova

Charles Eddington

Melissa Stephens

Addie Bjornson

Karen Pillar

Carlos Osorio

Gus Voss

Jenny McIntosh

Archana Ahlawat

Alex Eisenberg

April Zhang

Noah (Julee) Goldberg

Piper Carafa-Olson

Vernon Roessler

Aditi Rajendran

Kathryn Gardner

Jared Maddox

Gabby Goeglein

Murphy

Dan McFadden

Annette Klapstein

Kris Chan

Eamon Redding

Akanksha Jayanthi

Alicia L. Lopez

Tess Matsukawa

Tera Oglesby

Lucy Middleton

Julianna Alson

Katie Barnett

Robin Narruhn

wesleigh richardson

Amber Akemi Piatt, MPH

Mia McFarland

Kristian McFarland

Shuxuan Zhou

Diane Hernandez

Victoria Lewis

Katherine Schade

Luke Ulrick

Elena Orlando

Laura

Da Sol Lim

Casey Murray

Juan Cordova

Dawn wiltzius

Agnes P Cwalina

Nesley Bravo

Estelle Nelson

Scott Groce

Anna Micklin

Kunthy Nouv

Kelly Johnson

Raksmey Por

Patricia Gojetia

Guy Oron

Vik DeMarco

Rinny Tun

Sandra Matthews

Hayley Shannon

John Cachero

Anna Hackman

Genevieve Adabelle

Spencer Rickman

Chelsea Harris

Shandrika Demmer

Aaron Hartwell

Lauren Holloway

Tara Johnson

Amara C Monillas

Joey Wieser

Carmetrus Parker

Iris Carrera

wilson shook

Brooke Kipling

Helen Cosmos

Greta Roy

Judith Oliver

Nadelyn king

Solona Sisco

Nicole Plastino

Tobias Gurl

David Heppard

Laurie Dawson

Elliott McMurray

Kalisto Nanen

Jill Yang

Ade Gawdat

Bruce glant

Amanda Barnett

Jaron Kaplan-Parr

Yameekia Saxton

Bellen Drake

Sierra Katz

Alicia young

Connie Palmersheim

Brittany Friedman

Lena Klarnet

Nicole Bearden

Giulia Pasciuto

Abra Soule

Susan Stahl

Krista Hanson

Alisha Nieh

Rochelle James

Jeremy

Paige Hardy

Wyatt Thomas

Sasha Pesci

Sharon Tsoi

Julianne Presson

Laura Rodriguez

Yolanda Heppard

J R

Raili Marks

Alexandra Blakely

isaura jiménez

Lily Frenette

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Saira Basravi

Rachel Scott

Nick Dominique

Anne Petty

Allyson McDonough

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Sean Flannigan

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Sarah Benson

Rebecca Chan

Kamal Patel

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Jay Roelof

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ind

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April Sewell

Bhante Nuntiyo Bhikkhu

Leela Berman

Sara Virginia Newman

Carrie Jaecksch

Scott Winn

Lauren berliner

Kirstin Wagner

Heather Day

Jessica Anthony

Marisa Hendrickson

Alana Gorman-Knutson

Hannah Lessing

Dana Barnett

Jieyi Ludden

Che Sehyun

Maggie Grae Clogston

Charles Collins

Kate McIntosh

Rachel Barnett

Frances O’Shaughnessy

Susan A. Verbalis

Sarah Sense Wilson

McKenzie McCallister

Anne Dwyer

Michelle Hu

Alison Kelly-Rostholder

Susan Sheinfeld

Michael H. McIntosh

Peter Pihos

Rabbi David Basior

Kelsey Hamlin

Michelle Dillon

Elena Fazeli

Moira Leibowitz

Mia Mendoza

Scott Kurashige

Robin Counts

Sallie Lau

Miles

Lizzie Simon, RN

LYnn McIntosh

Molly Brashear

Claire Clayton

Meryl Geffner

Marissa Hoffman

Frances Dierken

Jennie L

Danielle Rowland

Cole Buckley

Gail Tsai

Jose Luis Rodriguez

Vince Schleitwiler

Scott

Hana Ferronato

Benjamin Kunzo Crook

Naomi Finkelstein

Thiago Marques

Randy Meier

Anthony Rella

Xander Kahn

Camilla Guevara

Caralise McIntosh

Willa Osborn

Jason Thoennes

Amanda andrews

Cherie Lee

Kaylee Knowles

Mytoan Nguyen-Akbar

Evette Jasper

Eliza Davison

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Michelle Habell

Casey Drobnick

Claire McHale

Emmett Moore

Taurmini Fentress

Makenna Lehrer

Laura Stembridge

Reilly Richards

Erin Bednarz

Joanie Fuller

Andrew Wurtz

Caleb Knapp

Jessamyn

Abby Welch

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Shannon Landheer

Phoebe Fanganello

Maricruz Maldonado

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Devany Shikiar

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Tedi Beck

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Corinne H

Carol willuams

Kaitlyn Laibe

Arista Chen

Ruba Ayub

Ruby Harlin

Riley Meeks

Alejandra Puerto

Nick peters

Eowyn Orleck

Maren Nielsen-Thompson

Randi Fleming

Myra Lara

Andrew Grant Houston

Allison Campbell

Omid Bagheri Garakani

Clara Sheffer

Jocelyn Santacruz

Natalie Jamerson

Frank Blanco

Serenity Chan-hamilton

Sai Samineni

Elena Perez

Kathryn Grubbs

Morgan Stine

Alexis koch

Allison Goldberg

Jaci Leavitt

Julie Xia

Elena Chiu

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Carl W. Elliott

Carol Olivier

Jaiden Feldman

Ananya Garg

Amanda Brown

Carly Rose

Erika Decker

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Elizabeth Nichols

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Athena Addams

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Caren Hill

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Katy Allen-Schmid

Aubrey Wisdom

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Valentina Warner, MD

Jean Berolzheimer

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Jordan Van Voast

Riddhi Mehta-Neugebauer

Marlen Ruedas Castro

Max Drewes

Shannon Carman

Carrie Matthews

janet Glenn

Christina Antonakos-Wallace

Jacob Meyers

david kipnis

Megan Ybarra

Becca Meredith

Dean Spade

Meera Sethi

La Tisha Conto

Cole Willsea

Geoffrey D’Alosio

Jamil Suleman

Paula Bond

Shelby Handler

Chelsea Myers

Ross Girshick

Brie Gyncild

Meghan Thompson

Aaron Shay

Eric Padget

Becca

Jay Billings

Jeffrey Freiberg

James Page

Rachel Shapiro

Karla

Elena Lyn Orlando

Elise Cooksley

Katie Freeman

Todd Bohannon

Greg Thiessen

Natasha I Terry

kai aprill-tomlin

Annie

Gordon Werner

Emily Yoshioka

Ashley Barnes-Cocke

Yaya

Megan Munk

Kelsen Caldwell

Casey Motson

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Matty Whyte

Ellen

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Shelli

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Hannah Wilson

Sue Kay

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Grace Ott

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Elisa Cozad

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Michael Foster

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Simon

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Francis Jason

Jackson Pietsch

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Sewheat Asfaha

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Shaniah Card

NANCY L COLLINS

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Sweller weller

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Sarah Staley

Karen Taylor

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Scout Smedley

Steve Leigh

Sarah Egger

Jeff Campbell

Beck

Fiona Sheehan

Sarah

Sara Yinling Post

Jack Finley

Mac Peyton

Kathryn Sanlis

Rebecca Petersen

David Ellenwood

Brittney Bush Bollay

Mai Takahashi

Fletcher Christie

Toetie

Ross Kirshenbaum

Sarah Bishop

Byron C. Coates

Ashleen O’Brien

Darius Fullmer

Rebecca Allen

Jieyi Arthur Ludden

Dora “Duaa-Rahemaah” Williams

Anna Jacobsen

Agnes P. Cwalina

Will Toaspern

Eliana Horn

Rae Paris

Mary RobertS

Ed Mast

Tianna Andresen

Madeleine Sosin

Jasmine Fernandez

Nick San

Miya Woo

Jeremy Milloy

Maria Porter Steward

Michael H McIntosh

Diana Xin

Jared Austen Maddox

Tushar

Carl W Elliott

Cassandra Yabes

Miranda Mellis

Sarah Cornett

Letauaeletise Hunkin

Nina Wallace

Kyli McGillivray

Brad Blackburn

Aidan Moore

Tiffany Chen

Lauren Moore

Morgan Michel

Emijah Smith

Aline Prata

Jada Marsden

Stephanie Trasoff

Kathleen Brian

Rudy

Sarah Schwab

Elizabeth Seibel

Camille Walsh

Linda Phan

Aleksandrea Johnson

Alena Huynh

Justin totaan

Elicia Shotland

Rachel Anderson

carol williams

Zainab Jabboua

Eden Amital

Maana Mesbahi

Peggy Korpela

Emily Silva

Arianna Nord

Gregory Lewis

Noah Collier

Devon de Leña

Naomi Smith

Emily Rose Childs

Derek Boiko-Weyrauch

Summer Diegel

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Darcy Peth

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