Dear Governors, Directors and Commissioners overseeing the DOC:
As the Covid-19 continues to spread, it is of utmost importance to focus on the jails and prison systems just as much as we’re focusing on the public communities. I have researched as well as spoken to an Infectious Disease nurse. I’ve compiled a list of suggestions that will help to keep our incarcerated people as well as the communities safer. The goal is to PREVENT the virus from entering facilities. Due to small spaces, it’s practically impossible for the incarcerated to practice social distancing. So, we as a whole need to brainstorm other solutions for added protection.
I’m happy to say that Virginia has been very receptive to these ideas, including but not limited to: Seeking addition medical personnel through a temp agency so that there will be extra health care workers present at facilities, ordering extra and FREE soap for all inmates, serving fruits, some facilities are requiring workers to wear gloves facilities and some facilities are requiring timely cleaning/sanitizing in pods, chow halls and bathrooms several times a day. That’s a great start. It is our great hopes that other states will follow suit by implementing some of the following suggestions.
- ANYONE who enters a jail or prison (including staff and vendors) be required to wear the supplied masks, gloves and shoe covers
- Routine Temperature checks of not only the employees but the ones incarcerated as well
- More fruits and juices in their diets as well as a Vit C regimine to boost their immune systems
- All states to order extra soap to make sure soap for proper hand washing is readily available for all incarcerated.
- Make any necessary repairs or replacements of sinks so there are ample amounts of functioning sinks for hand washing
- Allow showers daily
- Implement a plan that individual pods go to chow hall, outside, etc. separately
- Hand sanitizing stations in all common areas or hand sanitizing wipes if the concern of liquid sanitizer is an issue of contraband
- Lysol Disinfecting wipes be available for use to clean cells
- For people in open bay pods, I recommend sleeping head to toe to expand the breathable space between each person. In other words, one person sleeps head at top of bunk, the next person sleep with head at the bottom of the bunk
- Test kits readily available on site
- A separate area to be used for quarantining people who have symptoms
- All kiosks, tablets, pen-pads and phones to be sanitized after each use (Lysol wipes would be handy for this)
- For all facilities who have stopped commisary services due to fear of vendors bringing the virus in, there are several ways to address and work around this issue.
A. Wear masks, gloves and shoe covers
B. Designate a different, less populated area for check ins of vendors
C. Check vendors in OUTSIDE the doors.
- Reinstate the commisary. The result of indefinitely disallowing the incarcerated to order commisary is the #1 reason for riots to erupt. By taking away that right to order, whether its a priviledge or not, is blatantly asking for disaster. For most of the people, commisary is the only thing they really have to look forward to.
- Extra mental health or group counseling to address the virus and the fears of many. It’s important for the incarcerated to know they will not be forgotten during this pandemic and that every precaution available is taken for their protection.
- Last but certainly not least, look into releasing anyone who has immune deficiencies, the geriatrics, the handicapped, anyone who is at a low risk to re-offend, anyone who is due for release soon and speed up the parole process so that parole eligible will be released if parole is granted. The goal is to reduce already over crowded facilities to help prevent the spread of this deadly virus.
I hope these suggestions are feasible for your individual state and that they will be implemented in as many facilities as possible.
We have to keep in mind, should the virus enter a facility, with the close contact/distancing, it will spread like wild fire. This is not only a huge concern for those incarcerated but also for the workers who enter these facilities everyday: then leaving to take the virus back out into the communities.
Thank you for your time and for implementing all means necessary to protect each and every citizen, incarcerated or not. Please don’t hesitate to contact me for further information as desired or needed.