1,580 faith leaders and advocates signed the NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice petition urging Congressional leaders to reduce the number of people who are incarcerated or detained and at risk of COVID-19 and to provide them with access to economic and social supports during this pandemic. All people, including those who are detained or incarcerated, deserve to live with dignity and without needless threat to their health and their lives.
People in jails, prisons, and detention facilities are at greater risk than the general population of becoming ill and dying from the coronavirus. Incarcerated people of color are at even greater risk. Now, the situation has become dire. As of April 29, 2020, at least 57,000 people in prisons across our country have tested positive for coronavirus, and 616 inmates have died of the illness.
Our system of justice must reflect both health justice and racial justice. For the sake of those imprisoned and for the safety of the general public, the 1,580 signers have urged Congress to prioritize the decarceration of as many inmates and detainees in these institutions and detention centers as possible, as soon as possible.
Rev. Carey A. Grady, Pastor of Reid Chapel AME Church said:
"My faith teaches that every person is created in the image and likeness of God with inherent dignity. We as a society have an obligation to care for all people, and that includes our incarcerated and detained brothers and sisters who are at risk of COVID-19. To promote life and dignity, our nation needs to prioritize the decarceration of vulnerable people."
Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, Executive Director of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice said:
"Because of the failed federal response to the pandemic, tens of thousands of imprisoned Americans have contracted COVID-19 and hundreds have died. Incarcerated and detained people have every right to remain healthy, but nothing is being done to protect them. The only faithful way forward is to release all prisoners and detainees who are at high risk of infection."
The petition to Congress can be read here: https://networklobby.org/
NETWORK, a national Catholic Social Justice lobby, which educates, organizes, and lobbies for economic and social transformation, has a nearly 50-year track record of lobbying for critical federal programs that support those at the margins and prioritize the common good.