Unmasking the Lies and Deceptions about the distribution of PPEs by the Alabama Department of Corrections
FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT, Alabama Prison System, Ala. Over the past several weeks, the Alabama Dept. of Corrections has been gradually changing the prison uniforms that it issues out to the incarcerated citizens in their custody from the familiar white shirts and pants to the new khaki uniforms.
The old piles of worn and soiled uniforms were hauled off to never-never land, presumably never to be heard from again. Or so we thought. Recently, though, these old white uniforms seem to have made an ignoble return.
Anyone watching the news lately would know that family members, advocacy groups and others have been putting tremendous public pressure on Commissioner Jefferson Dunn and Governor Kay Ivey to protect the lives and safety of the incarcerated citizenry by proving PPEs to those in custody. Commissioner Dunn has admitted publicly that the ADOC is ill-prepared to deal with the COVID 19 pandemic in the overcrowded prisons system. Along with this pressure was the request that the ADOC allow faith-based groups and others to donate PPEs to the ADOC for the appx. 24,000 people in state custody.
In response to this pressure, the ADOC began to be more transparent about conditions inside the prisons and, among other things, the request for donations to be allowed was approved by Commissioner Dunn.
It is now being report by media that PPE packages, including the donated material are being distributed to the prison population. Pictures of masks, gloves and hand sanitizers are said to be issued out across the ADOC. These reports are FALSE !!
It is true that the ADOC has provided masks to the prison population, but these masks are the only material distributed thus far, but not every prison has received them. There are no reports of gloves or hand sanitizer being distributed at any Alabama prison that F.A.M. is in contact with.
Instead, the people on the inside are wondering, where is the news media getting this FALSE information from and why are they reporting it without confirmation from those on the inside?
Additionally, there hasn’t been any accounting for or distribution of the donated PPE supplies. Instead, the only product issued by the ADOC thus far has the masks that were made at Tutwiler and Holman Correctional Facilities.
Speaking of these masks, any incarcerated person who wants to receive one must first sign a release of liability form absolving the ADOC of any liability. This liability contract comes with the following warning:
“WARNING: Use this mask at your own risk. The ability of this mask to protect the user and the effects of its use on health are unknown. The mask is not guaranteed to be effective against the spread of any illness or virus including COVID 19.”
A thing or two about these masks
Clearly, these masks are made from the same material that were previously used to make the white uniforms that the ADOC collected up and hauled off from the prisons.
We cannot tell if the masks are merely recycled material from the old uniforms or if they were made from excess material left over in stock. What is clear is that the ADOC has now entered into the business of creating medical products but with the caveat that recipients waive all liability if the product doesn’t protect the user. One of the problems with this arraignment is that the user, in this case incarcerated people who are at the mercy and under the control of the ADOC, don’t have any other option in the matter – either sign the waiver releasing ADOC of all liability or you are refused a mask. Second, the ADOC is responsible for the safety of each human life that it incarcerates. In fact, if the deadly virus enters into the prison system, it will definitely come from an ADOC employee because they are the ones trafficking in and out of the prison system and, so far, they are the only ones who have tested positive for the virus.
The ADOC’s responsibility to protect the citizens who are in custody is part of the mission statement of the ADOC and is a duty owed to all 24,000 of us that cannot be waived.
“The mission of the Alabama Department of Corrections is to confine, manage and provide rehabilitative programs for convicted felons in a safe, secure and humane environment, utilizing professionals who are committed to public safety and to the positive re-entry of offenders into society.”
Furthermore, the masks clearly don’t provide protection against transmission of COVID 19 because the material used to make the masks won’t keep the virus inside the mask, nor will it prevent the virus from entering through the mask. . . These masks provide a false sense of security to the user and affords the ADOC opportunity to make a public claim that they are fulfilling their duty to public safety, while in reality the ADOC is doing less than the minimum required during this public health emergency.
We are DEMANDING the protection that we are owed relative to the threat being posed by COVID 19. And we are DEMANDING this protection without precondition and without being required to sign a release of the duty that is owed to us by Commissioner Dunn and the ADOC. We receive mattress, clothing, towels, and other necessities because the ADOC is required to provide these same for anyone in their custody. We are not required to sign a release of liability to receive any of these articles. The reason why we are being required to sign a waiver before we can receive a protective mask in clear: the product is ill-equipped to deal with the COVID 19 emergency at hand, and Commissioner Dunn is more concerned with public perception that he is with protecting human life.
The conditions that were already in existence inside Alabama prisons are testament to the fact that Commissioner Dunn does not care about the 24,000-plus in his custody. Tax-payers already expend in excess of $600 million dollars to support the prison system with little to show in return. Thus, not only is Commissioner Dunn unable to provide adequate protection and safety for the prison population, including during this COVID 19 pandemic, but Commissioner Dunn also seems to be untrustworthy with facts concerning the supplies that citizens and the Faith community have donated. The Faith-based communities have entered into Alabama prisons and distributed foods, hygiene and other items for many years, and those of us on the inside are well aware of how misuse of public funds are common place in ADOC.
Finally, although Commissioner Dunn accepted the request for donations that was initiated by Free Alabama Movement (F.A.M.), F.A.M. did not then and does not now support Commissioner Dunn’s protocol to have the supplies donated to ADOC for them disperse. Instead, in our press statement FAM called for the Faith-based community and non-profit sector to be declared “essential personnel” during this crisis and that they be allowed back into the prisons to distribute the supplies themselves, as this appears to be the only way to ensure accuracy and a realistic account of how these donated PPEs are being distributed. We continue to have the same concerns respecting the donated PPEs that caused us to request that the Faith-based community and non-profits be allowed to disperse these supplies that we initially had.
FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT
Please call Commissioner Jefferson Dunn and ask him to provide a detailed account of the donated material, and ask him why is ADOC reporting that a package of PPE material that includes hand sanitizer and gloves are being distributed to protect those inside ADOC when no such packages are being distributed? Also, please request that Commissioner Dunn provide a detailed and accurate account of which prisons have issued masks and when does the ADOC plan to have a mask issued to everyone in ADOC custody?