• Tell Atlanta to Move $18 Million from Cuffs to Care!
    In a time of public health crisis and a $40 million budget deficit, it is unconscionable for the City of Atlanta to spend $18 million to lock people in cages for jaywalking and disorderly conduct. We can, in no way, allow for this jail - and potential hotspot - to exist any longer in our community, wasting desperately needed resources, criminalizing people for being poor, and making us all less safe.
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  • Let Anthony Go Home
    A judge determined that Anthony Swain was eligible for release, but set his bond at $650,000, an amount that no one but the very wealthiest would be able to afford. As a result, Anthony has suffered in jail for four years, waiting for a trial that never comes. He is a paraplegic man with a rare degenerative disease that affects his respiratory and immune system. Without proper medical treatment, the disease can be deadly. On top of that, Anthony was recently diagnosed with COVID19 and is now in isolation, dealing with incredible cruelty. The jail cannot care for him. Let Anthony Swain go home. Anthony is a 43-year-old Black man who is wheelchair-bound and has been paralyzed from the waist down for most of his life. In February of 2016, Anthony was arrested on drug charges. Before he was locked up, Anthony was a staple in his community. On any given weekend, he could be found at his church with his tight-knit family or doing fish fries to feed people in his neighborhood. Since he has been incarcerated, Anthony's condition has deteriorated. He was diagnosed with cystic myelomalacia in 2019, which causes respiratory problems and a weakened immune system. So when coronavirus hit Florida, Anthony knew he was especially at risk. He contacted Dream Defenders to file a lawsuit to secure the immediate release of medically vulnerable people like himself and wrote an op-ed to bring attention to the despicable conditions he has been forced to endure. Anthony believed that if he wasn't released immediately, he would catch the virus at the jail. He was correct. On Mother's Day, he could not breathe. He was taken to the hospital, where he tested positive for coronavirus. He was taken from the hospital back to the jail, where he is now in isolation in a tiny cell that can't accommodate his disability. Since he’s been in isolation, he’s been eaten by ants that have infested his cell, has open wounds all over his body from bedsores, and been unable to even clean himself. This is no way for a person to recover. In addition to immediate concerns about his health and well-being, Anthony is also at risk for long-term repercussions including blood clots, stroke, heart disease, neurocognitive disorders, and so much more. Anthony has been forced to endure utter cruelty for too long. An unaffordable bond shouldn't strip someone of their right to live a safe, healthy life.
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  • #FreeOurYouth in Philly now!
    As states across the country take steps to stop the spread of COVID-19--closing schools, canceling events, and shifting to supporting children in their homes and communities--one group of young people is being left behind: the nearly 50,000 youth in custody in the United States. It took staff killing a youth to close down Wordsworth Academy, and decades of child abuse to lead to an investigative news piece that would close down Glen Mills. Institutional violence persists toward Philadelphia children in detention across the state, and a growing consensus prevails, including in Philadelphia, that we do not want any children in cages. Yet, amidst an unprecedented global pandemic, minimal numbers of youth have been released from the Philadelphia Juvenile Justice Services Center. Over 100 youth still sit in this building, many pre-trial or on technical probation violations. Many more Philly youth are stuck in placement facilities across the state, many of them beyond discharge dates that have come and gone. And 19 children are locked in the city’s adult jails on State Road, all detained pretrial with no court date in sight. Mass release has been done in less urgent times. As YASP organizer Will Bentley reminds us, we send children to adult jail before we allow them to vote. We call on First Judicial District and Family Court leadership - Judges Fox, Tucker, Dugan, Murphy, Gordon, Cooperman, Rebstock, Irvine, and Hearing Officer Wahl - District Attorney Krasner; and Mayor Kenney - to act now to save the lives of the most vulnerable children of this city and allow them to come home to their families, which is smart on public safety and public health. We also demand that the upwards of $400/day that is spent to house youth in JJSC - which opened the same year that dozens of Philadelphia Public Schools closed - as well as funds used to hold young people in adult jails and juvenile placements, be redirected to public schools, community organizations, and job programs that serve our youth.
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    Created by Youth Art & Self-empowerment Project
  • Approve S.O.S. Stimulus Grants for Micro Businesses
    Our tax dollars should be used to support churches, local restaurants, bodegas, barbershops, hair salons, dine-in restaurants, retail stores, Uber Drivers, and independent contractors who struggle....not "small businesses" that are publicly traded and have access to investors and big bank loans. This bill is for the business that watched as Shake Shack received millions, and felt defeated. Seventy-five percent (75%) of the Saving Our Streets (S.O.S.) Act would be used to provide grants worth up to $250,000 dollars to historically under-represented who are socially and economically left out - businesses owned by people of color, the formerly incarcerated, low-income, women. These are the business owners that banks denied, the business owners who can't call up the Senior Vice President of a major financial institution and ask for a "favor." Additionally, tiny businesses that have fewer than 10 employees (less than 20 employees if you're in an underserved community) AND have less $1 million in business revenue. This is NOT for publicly traded companies or hedge funds. They got access to their share. The SOS bill was set up for businesses that cannot compete with Ruth Chris, Potbelly, the Lakers - who benefited from programs like the Payment Protection Program. When you sign this petition, you are fighting for the self-employed, the Uber Drive, the FIverr contractor, the hair salon, the barber shop, the soul food spot....you are fighting for the side hustler who has to fight with their employer just to get fair pay. You are fighting for the businesses who fight to SERVE YOU every day. Press: "Sen. Kamala Harris and Rep. Ayanna Pressley have a $125 billion plan to help the smallest businesses" https://www.vox.com/2020/5/6/21249161/kamala-harris-ayanna-pressley-small-businesses-plan Kezia M. Williams CEO, The Black upStart www.instagram.com/theblackupstart www.theblackupstart.com Partners Supporing the S.O.S. Act NAACP National Urban League Black Economic Forum Main Street Alliance
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    Created by Kezia Williams Picture
  • Demand Governor Kemp extend the shelter in place order in Georgia!
    There are currently 25,939 active cases of Covid-19 in Georgia. Lifting the shelter in place will only contribute to the spread of Covid-19. We need Georgia to remain closed until medical research and scientific models show that it is safe to reopen. My mother Joeann Snead could have been your mother, daughter, aunt, or friend. Help to flatten the curve by demanding Governor Kemp to extend the shelter in place order.
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    Created by Catolyn Merriweather Picture
  • We Demand Racial Data and Equity in Testing during COVID-19
    In Chicago, Black people make up 70% of the people who have died due to coronavirus despite making up 32% of the population. In Michigan, Black people make up 14% of the population, but represent 40% of all COVID-19 deaths in the state, most of which are in the Detroit metro area. And in New York city, Black people are dying at twice the rate of the total population. These numbers are devastating but not surprising. From disparities in testing and treatment to the realities of implicit bias and an unequal healthcare system, we know that our people are carrying a disproportionate share of the burden of this public health emergency. But without access to nationwide data, we simply cannot measure its impact on the most marginalized members of our communities. In the past few weeks, every one of us knows someone whose family, friends or loved ones has been affected by this crisis. We need a comprehensive picture of what is happening if we are going to be able to come up with solutions to protect ourselves and each other. That’s why we are asking you to join us in calling on the federal government to collect nationwide demographic COVID-related data that will help us ensure greater equity in testing and treatment. As leaders committed to intersectional racial justice, Native Son, the Human Rights Campaign and The Body specifically call for the following: --Consistent and readily accessible publication of anonymized COVID-related racial and demographic data including testing rates, test results, hospitalizations, treatment, and mortality in compliance with existing healthcare privacy laws. --Development of a comprehensive, standardized data collection and publication protocol across all actors in the virus response including local and state public health departments and private companies providing testing and laboratory services. --Required comprehensive data collection and reporting for all healthcare system recipients of federal COVID relief funding across an expanded set of demographics including race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, socioeconomic status, and engagement with the criminal legal system among others. --Strong collaboration between the federal government and private testing and laboratory companies to ensure the collection and reporting of comprehensive demographic data in compliance with existing healthcare privacy laws. Although President Trump and other White House officials have recently acknowledged the racial disparity in COVID-19 deaths, the Centers for Disease Control has failed to provide complete nationwide racial demographic data on the impact of COVID-19. The limited data on race and ethnicity provided by state and local governments is inconsistent and not readily accessible. And there is currently no federal mechanism mandating data collection on other highly marginalized identities, including sexual orientation and gender identity. This means the recorded numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths in our communities are being vastly underreported. And that means that we are not receiving the relief, testing, and treatment we need. Public health experts agree that the failure to establish a robust testing protocol during the initial phase of our national response put all Americans at greater risk than necessary of exposure to the virus and severely limited our ability to contain the spread. In Puerto Rico, the reported testing rate is a mere 15 tests per day for every 100,000 people. Now, as the disease caused by the virus claims thousands of lives each day, the compounding effects of structural racism on disease prognosis is starting to come into sharper focus. Until we are given access to data that shows the full impact of this crisis on our communities, we will not be able to coordinate resources to the places and people that need them most. Join us in demanding that the federal government collect nationwide, demographic COVID-19 related data today.
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  • Tell Governor Brian Kemp to implement a rent freeze and moratorium on all evictions in Georgia!
    Coronavirus (COVID-19) is now officially classified as a pandemic and the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases Director has stated, “it’s going to get worse''. Across media outlets, the prevailing safety precautions include “wash your hands" and “stay home”. However, residents in this state are not guaranteed to have access to these basic necessities. Water shut-offs, evictions and homelessness significantly worsen the threat posed by COVID-19. If more residents are evicted during this period, COVID-19 could start to spread more rapidly among those who become homeless. We cannot afford to have more emergencies on top of the current emergency. We urge Governor Brian Kemp to be an example for the nation while he stands with his constituents and implement a rent freeze and moratorium on all evictions in the state of Georgia.
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  • Demand that Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx Decarcerate to Respond to COVID-19
    As of April 14, 2020, more than 300 people incarcerated in CCJ have tested positive for COVID-19 and 3 people have lost their lives. The rate of infection has climbed as high as 62 out of every 1,000 people incarcerated in the jail, and there are no doubt many more people who have COVID-19 but who have not been tested. Cook County Jail has been identified by the New York Times as the “top hot spot” in the nation’s pandemic. People incarcerated in jail are one of the populations most vulnerable to coronavirus and COVID-19, and their protection warrants special emergency action. Jails and prisons are known to quickly spread contagious diseases. Incarcerated people have an inherently limited ability to fight the spread of infectious disease since they are confined in close quarters and unable to avoid contact with people who may have been exposed. Cook County Jail is a death trap, and leaving people incarcerated there during this pandemic will result in the needless illness, suffering, and deaths of people in the jail’s custody, staff working inside the jail, and others in the community as our shared health care system becomes overwhelmed. As a candidate who campaigned on a progressive platform, it is State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx’s responsibility to take bold action now. If State’s Attorney Foxx continues the present course, more people will inevitably and unnecessarily lose their lives.
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    Created by Matthew McLoughlin Picture
  • Decarcerate Prince George’s County Jail NOW!
    Prince George’s County jail is a hotbed of human rights abuses in the midst of the coronavirus crisis. Credible reports from whistleblowers inside of the Prince George’s County jail detail how correctional officers and jail officials have ignored early cases of COVID-19 contributing to community spread, penalized those who were infected, failed to provide adequate medical care, and resorted to illegally detaining people who have been bonded out but are exhibiting symptoms consistent with COVID-19. When not ignored entirely, symptomatic detainees are given nothing but Tylenol and sent back and forth between their housing units and the medical unit, exposing numerous others along their route. In certain housing units, detainees are punished or threatened with punishment by trying to use their clothing and linens to fashion personal protective equipment they are otherwise denied. For those who do test positive for Coronavirus, they are locked in an isolation cell where blood, feces, and mucus covers the walls. In the isolation cell, they are denied basic hygiene supplies, such as toothbrushes and toothpaste, for days. They are not allowed to shower for at least two weeks. During that time, they are forced to wear the same clothing for days, sometimes even a week or more, and often the same clothing in which they sweated through their fevers. They are denied access to telephones and any ability to communicate with the outside world. Even within the medical unit, any medical conditions that can’t be addressed through routine medication are ignored. They are trapped in cages, treated like animals, rather than the human beings they are. COVID-19 cases in New York, Chicago, and Washington, DC show that jails become ground-zero for pandemics because they are ill-equipped to allow social distancing, provide PPE, and provide adequate sterilization. The best way to contain the virus is to release as many people as possible from detention, limit the number of arrests in order to stem the flow of people in and out the jails and provide critical medical care for those who remain incarcerated during the pandemic.
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    Created by Qiana Johnson, Life After Release Picture
  • California's COVID-19 Budget Must Support Decarceration!
    As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across California, people caged inside prisons and jails remain at the mercy of our elected officials. Last week, the California Senate formed the Budget Subcommittee on COVID-19 to address the budget needs of this crisis and will be holding their first hearing this Thursday April 16th at 2pm. The budget that California creates over the next few weeks will determine who lives and who dies. In Los Angeles alone there have been 11 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among the jail population, 33 cases among staff, and one custody staff on life support. With over 700 prisoners quarantined in Los Angeles and many remaining to be tested, incarcerated people and their families fear that there are many more cases yet to be reported. Los Angeles, along with many counties across the state, are taking steps to reduce the jail population in order to slow down the continued spread of the virus. The jail population in LA is at the lowest levels since 1990 - dropping from over 17,000 prisoners to 12,800, largely due to the continued advocacy of groups like JusticeLA. Now is the time for the State to do its part and help fund jail and prison decarceration efforts by providing funds for: -- emergency housing for houseless people, -- transitional housing for people being released from jails and prisons, -- permanent housing for houseless people and people being released from jails and prisons, -- community-based treatment for people with mental health, behavioral health and biomedical needs transitioning out of incarceration, -- pretrial and post release services, -- post-conviction review and resentencing, -- alternatives to incarceration to support the release of additional people from jails and prisons, and -- free phone calls for families reaching their loved ones behind bars.
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    Created by Dignity and Power Now
  • Health Not Handcuffs: Stop Unnecessary Arrests in New Orleans
    As New Orleans becomes the new epicenter of the COVID-19 virus, our first priority must be to protect community members inside and outside of the jail and public servants from contracting the virus. In jails and prisons, social distancing and quarantine is impossible, and healthcare is insufficient at best. An outbreak of COVID-19 in our jails and prisons would mean certain death for many of our community members inside, for jail staff, and for healthcare workers in our carceral system. As of April 21, 56 people in the Orleans Parish jail have tested positive for COVID-19, while 47 Sheriff's Office employees and 11 medical staffers have tested positive. As staff and community members filter in and out of the local jail, they come in contact with their families and neighbors--no matter how effectively we socially distance ourselves from one another. An outbreak in our jails endangers everyone in our community. Since this outbreak began, we have closely monitored which arrests have received bail hearings. So far, the data is clear: NOPD is still making custodial arrests for non-violent crimes. Between March 19 to April 17, 35% of people who were booked and required to receive a bail hearing were arrested for crimes that don’t pose a risk to the public. Regular updates are posted to Court Watch NOLA’s Twitter on Fridays at 5:30 PM CST. Minimizing the number of people introduced to the jail is crucial to slowing the spread of COVID-19 in our city, because every new person sent to the jail leads to an almost certain additional exposure to the virus that could have been avoided. Unnecessary arrests mean unnecessary deaths. Mayor LaToya Cantrell and NOPD Superintendent Shaun Ferguson have the power to reduce the risk of contagion by ordering an arrest protocol to stop locking New Orleanians up for low-level and non-violent offenses where there is no sign of clear and present danger of imminent physical harm. NOPD officers must utilize summonses in lieu of custodial arrests for nonviolent offenses. Sign our petition and demand Mayor Cantrell and Superintendent Ferguson change NOPD’s arrest protocol and stop locking New Orleanians up for non-violent, non-domestic, non-sex offenses. When you sign this petition, an email will be automatically sent to select New Orleans city officials. Thank you for continuing to fight for justice in the face of this global crisis.
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    Created by Chloe Dewberry
  • Philly Courts and Mayor Kenney: Act Now to Mass Release People from Jail as Coronavirus Spreads
    Dozens of incarcerated people and prison workers are infected with coronavirus. Yet the Philadelphia courts are forcing the public defenders, private defense attorneys, and the district attorney to approve individual petitions to be seen by judges. That's meant that our jails have only decarcerated by 8-10%, while other cities have let more than half of their incarcerated population go.
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    Created by The Media Mobilizing Project