The Prison Industrial Complex is a living, breathing monster that targets and swallows up the most vulnerable and marginalized communities—specifically, Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities—in the United States.
This is especially critical to understand as COVID-19 continues its march across the nation with renewed strength in the face of profound and willful government neglect and incompetence on the state and federal levels.
There is an inherent inhumanity in caging people, human beings, and leaving them to die because we are a nation addicted to punishment instead of committed to creating a just and equitable society. By Aug. 11, at least 95,398 people in prison had tested positive for novel coronavirus, a 10 percent increase from the week before, the Marshall Project reports. At one point, Trousdale County, Tennessee, had the most coronavirus cases in the U.S., per capita. Now, we are seeing rises in cases Florida, Texas, California, the federal Bureau of Prisons, as well as outbreaks in Idaho, Iowa, Oregon and South Carolina.
This is something that should concern us all.
Incarcerated people awaiting trial in jail have nearly twice the mortality rate of people who have been convicted and are serving their sentence and, too often, they were trapped behind bars because they were too cash poor to afford bail. Nearly a third (30%) of incarcerated people in prisons and more than a quarter (26%) of incarcerated people in jails reported high blood pressure. Asthma was reported for 15% to 20% of incarcerated people. These are all comorbid conditions for COVID-19.
In part II of our ESSENCE Reports three-part series, COVID-19’s Impact on Black Communities, we take a look at the intersection of COVID-19 and mass incarceration, the ethics of disposability and an economy that is dependent upon the carceral state.
Featured in Part II are:
- asha bandele, New York Times Best-Selling Author, Activist
- S. Lee Merritt, Civil Rights Attorney
- Susan Burton, Founder and Executive Director of A New Way of Life Reentry Project
- Dr. Yusef Salaam, Activist & Member of Exonerated Five
- Mike Africa Jr., Hip Hop Artist, Writer, Member of MOVE
- Ash-Lee Woodward Henderson, Co-Executive Director, Highlander Research and Education Center
Please watch Part 11: COVIID-19 and Mass Incarceration in the video at the top of this article.
Coming soon: Part III: COVID-19 and Environmental Injustice. Also, check out Part I: COVID-19 and the Black South.
ESSENCE is committed to bringing our audience the latest facts about COVID-19 (coronavirus). Our content team is closely monitoring the developing details surrounding the virus via official sources and health care experts, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Please continue to refresh ESSENCE’s informational hub for updates on COVID-19, as well as for tips on taking care of yourselves, your families and your communities.