Dear County Executive Jason Garner, District Attorney Michael Korchak, and Broome and Binghamton City Judges,
We write deeply concerned about the impact of the Coronavirus upon the county’s residents entangled in our criminal justice system. Many of the most vulnerable members of our community are in the local jail; many more are required by probation, court, and parole regulations to travel broadly across the county to many group meetings. In the jail or outside it, most do not have access to basic medical and preventative care.
Those crowded into cells and pods in the jail, denied sanitizer and even soap to wash themselves, are at special risk. A virus outbreak under these conditions would be rapid and deadly. It would also inevitably spread quickly into the community: hundreds of guards and staff move in and out of jail daily. We thus urge you implement the following actions to reduce the risk to us all:
- Immediately release from the jail those at high risk for infection, including older adults, pregnant women, the immuno-compromised, and those with respiratory conditions, disabilities, and chronic health conditions
- Release anyone and do not incarcerate anyone for non-violent charges, including those held solely for administrative reasons, including technical violations of conditional discharge, parole, probation, and immigration detainers
- Provide testing, sanitation supplies, medical treatment, and adequate nutrition for all remaining in the jail
- Make phone calls and video calls free for all persons in the jail and end predatory commissary pricing
- Ensure those coming home have a discharge and treatment plan, including medical and housing resources, particularly for those who need to quarantine or self-isolate themselves
- Provide transparent and public dissemination of these measures as they are implemented
Implementing these measures serves the public interest; continuing mass detention threatens us all.