Today, the New York State Congressional delegation sent a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo urging him to take action to protect those who are incarcerated and working in New York jails and prisons from the spread of COVID-19. U.S. Representatives Jerry Nadler (NY-10), Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08), Eliot Engel (NY-16), Gregory Meeks (NY-05), Grace Meng (NY-06), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Jose Serrano (NY-15), Nydia Velazquez (NY-07), Yvette Clarke (NY-09), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Thomas Suozzi (NY-03), Carolyn Maloney (NY-14) and Paul Tonko (NY-20) signed on to the letter, urging more prison releases and outlining the necessary measures that are recommended by public health experts in order to reduce the spread of the coronavirus in our correctional facilities and surrounding communities and prevent countless more deaths. The Innocence Project is a member of a coalition of 21 organizations that stands with the New York delegation and their recommendations to Governor Cuomo.
The following statement on today’s congressional letter can be attributed to Rebecca Brown, Director of Policy at the Innocence Project:
“We are incredibly grateful to members of the New York Congressional delegation who are fighting to reduce the terrible impact of COVID-19 on incarcerated people – disproportionately Black and Latinx – in New York’s jails and prisons. So far, we have yet to see all of the necessary steps taken to protect and save lives in these facilities, which have minimal safety standards and protective masks available. By voicing support for incarcerated people as well as staff and correctional officers, our federal elected officials are pushing to avoid more catastrophic outcomes as a result of the rapid spread in COVID-19 in prisons throughout our state. We urge the Governor to take more expansive action in releasing people from prison to avoid unnecessary disease and death among incarcerated New Yorkers, facility staff, and correctional officers. We applaud members of the New York Congressional delegation who are speaking up and are proud to stand with them.”
The 21 organizations of the coalition include:
The Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights
Color of Change
Legal Action Center
National Action Network
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
Drug Policy Alliance
Vera Institute of Justice
New York Civil Liberties Union
Release Aging People in Prison
Parole Preparation Project
New York Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
Office of the Appellate Defender, Inc.
Citizen Action of New York
Brooklyn Defender Services
Legal Aid Society
Correctional Association of New York