INDIANAPOLIS–On Wednesday, The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Indiana, the ACLU National and over 30 affiliates filed public record requests with Governor Holcomb and the Trump administration. Their requests sought information on what the Bureau of Prisons, governors and departments of corrections knew about the potentially massive impact of COVID-19 on prisons and surrounding communities. State Senator Eddie Melton (D-Gary) had the following remarks on the filed public record requests:
“The massive and catastrophic impact that COVID-19 poses to prison and jail populations, corrections staff and surrounding communities is an extreme cause for concern. Health experts, criminal justice leaders and related organizations have been trying to warn us about the threat that this virus posed on prisons and jails, many of which were already dealing with overcrowding. Unfortunately, there has been a lack of quick and efficient action despite the obvious problems jails pose for social distancing.
“Federal and state governments need to work swiftly to release non-violent individuals and those approaching their already scheduled release dates to slow the spread of this virus. The coronavirus is already spreading throughout our jails and we need to get it under control. In fact, a recent report shows that our projected COVID-19 cases may be half of what they will ultimately actually be after you account for the prison population. It’s a serious issue, and I support the ACLU’s decision to request more information about the knowledge that was held by governors and departments of corrections about the potential danger of COVID-19 to jail populations. During this deadly pandemic, peoples’ lives depend on the ability of leaders to work effectively and with urgency. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity, and it’s the duty of those in leadership to do what is necessary to protect everyone from this pandemic, including those in jail and our dedication corrections staff.”